The Brazilians won the continent’s most prestigious club competition in 2016 under former coach Pitso Mosimane, beating Zamalek in a two-legged final
While Bafana Bafana won’t be playing on the African stage next year in the 2022 Afcon, Mamelodi Sundowns can still do the nation proud by winning the Caf Champions League this season.
At that point, the likes of Khama Billiat, Leonardo Castro, Keagan Dolly, Anthony Laffor, Percy Tau and Wayne Arendse, all of whom are no longer at the club, were key players for Masandawana when they won the Champions League.
While several players from the 2016-winning side are still at the club, the Sundowns squad does look a lot different these days and, of course, Mosimane, now at Al Ahly in Egypt, has been replaced by co-coaches Manqoba Mngqithi and Rhulani Mokwena, together with a third coach in Steve Komphela.
And Mngqithi, who served as an assistant to Mosimane previously, feels that there could be more strength in depth in the current setup.
“We have had much improved attacking options. But if you look at the team of 2016, where we had Keagan, Percy, Khama, Leonardo, you would still say that attack was very potent,” he was quoted saying by the Daily Sun.
“But I think in many positions this time we have sufficient cover. That gives you hope that no matter what happens you can still be able to play a match without (missing) other players.”
Recently, Downs have been without Peter Shalulile (suspended for a league match) as well as the injured Kermit Erasmus.
But the team still has options such as Themba Zwane and Gaston Sirino in attack, while Mngqithi is also optimistic about a couple of other players becoming available again after recovering from injury.
[Mauricio] Affonso is coming from a long-term injury. We want him to step in quickly. Gift Motupa is showing some very good signs.
“We expect him to come in quickly, Keletso (Makgalwa) tries, but he is still young. He is bound to make mistakes.
“But one is content with the group we have ad they are working hard, There’s team spirit, commitment and everybody is putting in an effort to make sure the team succeeds.”
Downs currently top Group B in the Champions League with 12 points from four matches, their spot in the quarter-finals already secured. They are next up against Al Hilal Omdurman, away in Sudan on Friday evening.
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