Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has tipped Mamelodi Sundowns to advance to the final of this year’s CAF Champions League. Sundowns host Moroccan giants Wydad Casablanca in Pretoria on Saturday afternoon. However, the Brazilians will have to overturn a 2-1 deficit after losing the first leg semi-final in Morocco.
Sundowns have represented South Africa with great distinction in the CAF Champions League. They have become South Africa’s most consistent club in CAF inter-club competitions. After losing in the Champions League final in 2001, Sundowns eventually lifted the trophy in 2016. The following year they went a step further, being crowned CAF Super Cup champions.
Sundowns are on the brink of reaching another continental final, but first they must beat Wydad Casablanca. Baxter says he thinks Sundowns did well in their first game in Casablanca.
“I thought they did well in their game in Casablanca. I think the goal gave them a huge advantage going into this return game. I think Wydad will be very nervous about how they should approach the game because I think they know that if you set and try and park a bus for 90 minutes, Sundowns have got the individual players that can unlock you.”
The players have defied all the odds, giving their best in some very intimidating environments across the continent, especially in North Africa. Baxter says that Sundowns Coach Pitso Mosimane has got great balance within the team.
“I think they have done a fantastic job. Pitso has got a great balance within his team and the knowledge that they have got of playing on the continent now is outstanding so I expect Sundowns to go through. I do certainly wish Pitso and his boys all the best and hope they go through.”
Sundowns players now have the vital experience of playing in Africa and this will come in handy for Bafana Bafana in June’s Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Egypt. Captain Hlompho Kekana, Themba Zwane, and Tiyani Mabunda, Lebogang Maboe, and Rivaldo Coetzee are almost guaranteed a place in Bafana Bafana’s AFCON squad. Baxter says the Sundowns players are very experienced.
“Sundowns have become very very adept at CAF competitions and their players are very experienced so of course that spills over into or we can use that in the national team of course.”
The game at Atteridgeville’s Lucas Moripe Stadium kicks-off at 15:00. The winner of this tie will meet the winner between Esperance and TP Mazembe over two legs on the 24 and the 31 May.