No love lost between Sundowns and Wydad in Casablanca battle

Achraf Dari of Wydad Athletic Club (R) is challenged by Hlompho Aphenus Kekana (L) of Mamelodi Sundowns during the 2019 TOTAL CAF Champions League match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Wydad Athletic Club at Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat.  EPA/STR

Achraf Dari of Wydad Athletic Club (R) is challenged by Hlompho Aphenus Kekana (L) of Mamelodi Sundowns during the 2019 TOTAL CAF Champions League match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Wydad Athletic Club at Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat. EPA/STR

Mamelodi Sundowns and Wydad Casablanca meet again tonight at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Casablanca, in what could be a Caf Champions League semifinal battle as fiercely contested off the field as on it.

There was plenty of spice when Wydad and Sundowns met in the group stages of this season’s competition, with Wydad left infuriated after losing 2-1 in January at Loftus Versfeld, apparently aggrieved by Sundowns’ time-wasting and by the ball-boys, who delayed returning the ball to the field in the later stages of the game.

“Wydad are used to winning and they do not like it when they fail to do so,” Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane told reporters at the time.

“Their reaction to being unable to impose themselves on the game was to bully everyone – my players, the match officials and even the ball boys.”

Wydad beat Sundowns 1-0 in Casablanca to ensure top spot in the group, and Sundowns can expect another ferocious atmosphere. If they can get a respectable result, however, it will set Mosimane’s men up for the second leg in Tshwane.

What Sundowns need to avoid happening to them at all costs is what they did to Al-Ahly in the first leg of the quarterfinal, when they ran out 5-0 winners in the home leg, leaving the Egyptians with an impossible task to recover.

Mosimane is likely to Denis Onyango back in his starting line-up, if the Ugandan international is fully fit.

“You know what happens in Wydad, you have seen games away. We need Denis in those games, and we want to make sure Denis is available,” Mosimane told reporters after Sundowns had beaten Chippa United 3-2 on Tuesday.

“He could have played against Chippa United but we didn’t want to risk him.”

Kennedy Mweene, however, was brilliant for Sundowns against Chippa, making a tremendous double save in stoppage time, the Zambian staking a fine case to retain his place in the team.

Wayne Arendse and Anele Ngcongca are also likely to return, with Mosimane needing all the experience he can get in the heat of Casablanca.

 

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