JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – HISTORY and reputation are on the side of Zamalek Sporting Club but current form favours Mamelodi Sundowns as the two sides prepare for the two-legged Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League final.
The South African champions Sundowns, beaten finalists in 2001, will on Saturday host the five-time winners from Egypt in the first leg of the decider.
Kickoff is 15h00 at the 29 000-seater Lucas Moripe Stadium in Pretoria.
Zamalek, by virtue of winning the title in (1984, 1986, 1993, 1996 and 2002), making them the third-best side in the competition (behind fellow Egyptians Al Ahly, who won the title eight times, and DRC’s TP Mazembe who won five and finished twice as runners-up), are bookmakers’ favourites to land another title.
However, it will be folly for the Giza side to underestimate their Pretoria opponents if current form is anything to go by.
The Brazilians beat Zamalek’s White Knights home (1-0) and away (2-1) during the group stages.
Sundowns eventually won the Group B which also included Nigeria’s Enyimba and ES Setif of Algeria. The Algerians were banished after the first round of matches after crowd trouble.
“We played against Zamalek home and away and won both games. It is all about the mentality,” Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane told the club’s official website this week.
“We have a fair chance home and away, but critically, it is important to score away and to make sure our opponents do not score on our home ground.”
The former national team coach will be counting on the form of Zimbabwean winger Khama Billiat, resurgent Liberian frontman Anthony Laffor and South African stars Keagan Dolly and the solid Wayne Arendse among others.
Tiyani Mabunda was also a star performer during The Brazilians’ brilliant run in Africa.
The second leg of the final is scheduled for the 86-000 capacity Borg el-Arab Stadium in Alexandra.
– CAJ News