Goal-shy Downs are in last-chance saloon
SA champions must beat Horoya of Guinea in Tuesday’s match or be eliminated from the Champions League
Mamelodi Sundowns face their toughest assignment of 2018 when they take on unpredictable Horoya AC in their must-win Caf Champions League group-stage clash at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Tuesday (kickoff 6pm).
The last Group C game for Pitso Mosimane’s team is a must-win affair for the SA champions. Any margin of victory in Atteridgeville will be enough for Sundowns to advance to the quarterfinals on the head-to-head rule over the Guinea club‚ who are three points ahead of Sundowns on the standings.
But any other outcome will see Sundowns eliminated and effectively waste the considerable investment in players the club made since the last August transfer window in 2017 to strengthen their squad for the continental campaign.
"Can we beat Horoya?" Mosimane asked at the weekend after his club went through a third successive match without scoring.
"Yes‚ we can‚" he said.
"Will it be easy? No. Do we have the team to beat Horoya? Yes. You know that in Pretoria a goal is coming. Twenty minutes‚ it’s there. In the end we must win. When we played the Togo team it was win at all costs‚ if we lost we were out. I think you know the score at halftime."
Sundowns were 2-0 up against AS Port Lome of Togo inside 15 minutes of their match at the Lucas Moripe Stadium a month ago but in the end were unable to add to the quick goals scored and won 2-1.
"We will have to do what we have to do. It’s not going to be easy but we have to survive‚" added Mosimane.
If they win‚ Sundowns will finish second in the group‚ behind holders Wydad Casablanca of Morocco‚ and go into the draw next week.
Here is a look at the fixtures with eight clubs in contention for three quarterfinals places.
Record eight-time African champions Al Ahly of Egypt and Esperance of Tunisia have already qualified, so who finishes first is the issue.
Ahly lead on head-to-head records, having won and drawn against Esperance, and a home win over Kampala Capital City Authority of Uganda will ensure they stay top.
Bottom club Township Rollers of Botswana hope to end a four-match losing streak when they host Esperance.
TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the last of whose five Champions League titles came in 2015, are certain of taking top place after an unbeaten five-match run.
The Lubumbashi side host second-place Difaa el Jadida of Morocco, who recently sold leading 2018 Champions League scorer Hamid Ahaddad to Zamalek of Egypt.
Assuming Mazembe win, 1976 African champions Mouloudia Alger will join them in the September 3 quarter-finals draw if they avoid defeat at home to fellow Algerian team Entente Setif.
While Sundowns and Horoya fight for survival, Wydad are away to bottom club Port of Togo, whose only points came from a shock home win over the South Africans.
Etoile Sahel of Tunisia are through to the last eight as group winners and Primeiro Agosto of Angola are well positioned to join them. A home win over Mbabane Swallows of eSwatini (formerly Swaziland), a side battling since the sale of several stars, will guarantee the Luanda club second place.
But if Primeiro slip up, they could lose out to Swallows or 2016 semifinalists Zesco United of Zambia, who host Etoile hoping for more goals from in-form striker Lazarous Kambole.
Additional reporting AFP