It’s a tale of contrasting fortunes for the two South African representatives in the CAF Champions League after the first five group stage matches, as Mamelodi Sundowns, who have already qualified for the quarter-finals stage, sit pretty at the top of Group A, while Orlando Pirates lie precariously in third position in Group B, ahead of this weekend’s final group stage matches.
The teams therefore have different objectives for their respective matches: The Buccaneers must win at all costs in Guinea against AC Horoya on Saturday if they are to continue with the adventure, while the more relaxed Brazilians are only concerned with avoiding defeat at Wydad Athletic Club, which will ensure top spot in their group and, possibly, a slightly less difficult draw in the first knockout stage. The Moroccan side can topple Sundowns with a win of more than one goal on Saturday, as that would bring them equal on points with Pitso Mosimane’s side and give them a head-to-head advantage, after they suffered a one-goal margin (2-1) loss in Tshwane in the reverse fixture.
But rather than what will happen on the pitch at the Stade Moulay Abdellah in Rabat, Mosimane is more concerned with the shenanigans which often take place off the pitch in the North African countries. “I went to Setif, do you know what happened? Do you remember? I went to Esperance, do you know what happened to us there? Full El Menzah stadium, are you serious? In the passage, it’s trouble there, my friend. You’re seeing the match, the trouble is on the passage (sic), is in the corridors, they do whatever they do … you saw what happens in Zamalek? You’re serious, north Africa? Yesses!
“Even, sometimes, west Africa can be a little bit better than that. Everywhere we go, the stories man, you know African Champions League is way behind. We have no bus, no training pitch, I mean guys it’s 2019, do we still have those stories? But they are there. It’s tough.”
Meanwhile, Pirates trail Horoya by a single point going into their match at the Stade 28 Septembre in Conakry, and will join the defending champions Esperance in the quarter-finals should they win. That match kicks off at 15:00, while the one in Rabat four hours later, at 19:00.