Onto the second leg, where Mamelodi Sundowns will host ZESCO United in the CAF Champions League after a 2-1 defeat in Zambia. Despite the loss, Pitso Mosimane’s charges will be ready for the task at hand, knowing that they will have the opportunity to make it to the final in front of their home supporters. The man that Sundowns can put their faith in, Khama Billiat, stepped up to the occasion and gave the Chloorkop-based outfit something to smile about with an all-important away goal. There’s more to Downs than just Billiat, though, and they will be ready to come guns blazing when ZESCO come to town. Who will come out on top in this semi-final humdinger? The Brazilians know the importance of this fixture and should do all they can for victory… The Sky is the Limit.
To win (Forecast betting)
Mamelodi Sundowns 6/10
ZESCO United 9/2
Despite losing to ZESCO United last weekend, Pitso Mosimane believes his side are learning invaluable lessons in the CAF Champions League. The Chloorkop-based team were condemned to a 2-1 defeat against the Zambian champions in the Champions League last Saturday, but Mosimane is adamant that all is not lost ahead of their crucial second-leg encounter against ZESCO.
“We’re growing as a team. It’s understanding continental football. We are maturing and becoming a little bit more experienced.”
This could be a defining week for Sundowns, who have a date with destiny on Saturday with a place in the CAF Champions League final up for grabs. Downs have down well so far to even make it this far in the tournament. Leonardo Castro is still out with an injury, but as expected, Percy Tau filled the void. Players like Khama Billiat, Keagan Dolly and Hlompo Kekana will need to be at their very best, after seeing what ZESCO are capable of.
The main objective for Pitso and his side is not to concede. A 1-0 scoreline will do for Downs. The back five responsible for that, will be Siyanda Zwane, Thabo Nthethe, Wayne Arendse and Tebogo Langerman, not to mention Denis Onyango in goal.
Mosimane is likely to rest his players once more in midweek with their second leg of the MTN8 taking place on Wednesday against Chippa United. However, Billiat is confident that Sundowns will come unscathed in this testing week.
“We are fighters. We were born to fight. We will fight all the way. Anything in front of us, we take that battle head on,” said the Zimbabwean.
Billiat has been an integral figure in Sundowns’ march to become one of the four best teams in the continent, while he also helped Zimbabwe become one of the 16 nations that will play in the Africa Cup of Nations next year. Downs will need him at his best once more when they host ZESCO in Tshwane this weekend.
ZESCO United claimed an emphatic 2-1 victory over Sundowns to put them one step ahead into the final of the CAF Champions League. The Zambian champions mounted heavy pressure on Downs, but it was until the 54th minute when Jackson Mwanaza rose highest to put ZESCO in the lead.
Two minutes later, the ZESCO striker grabbed his second of the game, taking advantage of some sloppy defending by the Brazilians. Team Ya Ziko have more than just one danger man, though. Jesse Were proved to be a nuisance for the Sundowns defence, and could have opened the scoring early on in the match. Were is definitely one to keep an eye out for, despite not getting his name on the scoresheet in the first leg.
However, ZESCO’s away form has me asking plenty of questions. They’ve managed to win just once on the road in the Champions League and will face a stern test at Chloorkop, going up against a Sundowns side who have won all their home games.
ZESCO fans will be hoping that their 2-1 scoreline in the first leg will be enough to secure them a spot into this year’s Champions League final.
Onyango; S. Zwane, Arendse, Nthethe, Langerman; T. Zwane, Kekana, Mabunda; Dolly, Tau, Billiat.
ZESCO United: 4-4-2
Silwimba; Banh, Owino, Odhiambo, Oluwafemi; Mwelwa, Mtonga, Chaila, Ching’andu; Mwanza, Were.
Prediction: Sundowns (6/10)
Pitso Mosimane’s team have that all-important away goal coming into this tie, giving them that extra confidence boost they’ll need coming into the match. A 1-0 victory will be enough for Downs, but I doubt they will rest on their laurels and settle for that. ZESCO United have been poor away from home, while Sundowns have been unstoppable on their turf. The Brazilians should win! Back them to win the match in 90 minutes.