Keeper Kennedy Mweene takes aim at Downs nemesis
Downs goalkeeper says victory against Morocco’s Wydad is crucial to get beyond ACL group stage
Mamelodi Sundowns need to beat Wydad Casablanca anyhow, pretty or ugly — just get the three points‚ Downs goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene said.
If you were to single out a team that has stood between Sundowns and a repeat of their 2016 Champions League success‚ it would be their group A opponents at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday night‚ Wydad.
The Moroccan giants expelled Sundowns on penalties in the quarterfinals of the 2017 Champions League (ACL) after both teams won their home legs 1-0.
Wydad were champions that year.
In 2018’s group stage opening game Downs blew a 1-0 lead when left-back Tebogo Langerman stopped playing, believing the ball had gone behind for a goal kick‚ in a 1-1 draw.
Sundowns lost 1-0 away‚ and finished third in the group‚ exiting before the quarterfinals.
Downs started the 2018-19 ACL group stage with a 2-1 defeat against Lobi Stars in Nigeria. Desperate to avoid a start similar to 2018‚ where the Brazilians could not win their first three group games‚ the Brazilians need a win against Wydad to get back on the front foot in a group that includes Asec Abidjan of Ivory Coast.
“Look‚ they are a very difficult team to beat. But I think it is overdue now‚” Mweene said. “We’re not looking at revenge. We’re just looking at winning the games at home and collecting the three points.
“Whether we play well or what‚ all we want is to just get past the group stage.
“I think I can’t call it a rivalry [with Wydad]. I call it pride. They know the kind of team we are‚ and we do them. They’ve got good players.
“We ’ll just have to wait for this Saturday to see what we can do. The only thing we want is three points‚ so we just have to win the game — anyhow.”
Downs held the lead against Lobi in Enugu on Friday through Anthony Laffor’s 38th-minute opener but conceded a penalty just before the break by Yaya Kone‚ then a winner by Mathias Martins in the 52nd minute.
“It’s not the result we wanted but it wasn’t meant to be‚” Mweene said.
“We are working hard not to have the same start to the group stage as last year. We know where we fell short‚ and the mistakes we made‚ and we’re working on it that it doesn’t repeat itself.
“We started with a loss‚ which was not what we wanted. Now there’s another game‚ and in Champions League you have to use home advantage.”
Wydad began group A in emphatic fashion‚ thrashing
Asec 5-2 in Rabat. Also in the Champions League‚ Orlando Pirates host Guinea’s Horoya at Orlando Stadium on Friday night. The Buccaneers began group B with a 0-0 away draw against FC Platinum in Bulawayo.