Mamelodi Sundowns co-head coach Manqoba Mngqithi has spoken about the impact of Covid-19 on the Masandawana side, and says they are prepared for any issues that also come their way during their Caf Champions League campaign.
Sundowns beat Al Hilal 2-0 in their Caf Champions League Group B opener on Saturday, the only South African team to play Champions League football on the weekend, as Kaizer Chiefs were not allowed into Morocco to face Wydad Casablanca, because of concerns over the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
While most South African clubs have been strangely reluctant to name players that have had Covid-19, Mngqithi was frank in saying that it has affected Sundowns at times this season.
“This season I remember in a game against (Golden) Arrows, we did not have 12 regular players, and when we went to Botswana (for the Champions League group stage qualifier against Jwaneng Galaxy), we ended up playing a midfield of Bangaly (Soumahoro), Lucky Mohomi and AJ (Andile Jali),” said Mngqithi.
“They thought we were holding players back but they only realised when we were in Botswana, that we didn’t have Themba Zwane, we didn’t have Gaston Sirino. This season is like that, but Caf have to be commended for trying to have compliance officers from different countries.
“We know in the Champions League anything can happen, people like to cheat,” he added.
“It is not easy, a lot is happening. Kaizer Chiefs could not go to Morocco because of the laws of the country. The same can still apply to us, we were thinking Algeria might be a problem (Sundowns will face CR Belouizdad in Algeria in their next Group B match on February 23), but it looks like we are getting our visas. This season the team have been tested a lot. There are a lot of setbacks and we are trying to fight.”
Before travelling to Algeria, Sundowns will look to extend their lead at the top of the DStv Premiership when they host Baroka at Loftus Stadium tomorrow. Sundowns are currently two points clear of Tshwane rivals SuperSport United at the top of the table, with a game in hand.