Today sees Mamelodi Sundowns venture into the Angolan territory to face Petro de Luanda in a tricky CAF Champions League encounter at the Estadio 11 de Novembro in the capital city Luanda.
The Brazilians have been business-like in this campaign having amassed 10 points from 4 matches that includes back-to-back scalps of USM Alger (USMA) and the Angolan outfit and a morale boosting draw against perennial rivals Wydad Casablanca.
In stark contrast, Petro’s continental escapades have been utter dismal with away losses to both Sundowns and Wydad respectively. Their only 2 points gathered in their group came from home draws against fellow strugglers USMA and Wydad.
But the Petro Luanda and Sundowns match this Saturday has far reaching significance for the South African league champions in terms of topping the group and ensuring a favourable quarterfinal return leg at home, hence we take a greater look at this epic clash and analyse the possibilities leading to this fifth round match.
1. Continental Experience
In the Girabola 2019/20 season Petro Luanda have played a total of 16 matches, winning 12 drawing 3 and losing only 1 match. They have 11 clean sheets with 7 attained at home and 4 accrued away from home.
This confirms that Petro Luanda have a formidable record in the Girabola, but have been subjected to a rocky ride in the CAF Champions League. Between 1998 and 2010 Petro have enjoyed 7 appearances in this tournament with a single semi-finals berth in 2001 and numerous first or second round exit.
On the contrary, Sundowns have been a huge factor in this tournament, between 1999-2020 they amassed 12 appearances, in 2016 they were the champions and they were in the semi-finals last year.
So in terms of experience on the continent Sundowns have a greater pedigree than Petro de Luanda.
2. Superior tactical approach
Petro Luanda have demonstrated an average attacking model in the matches played in this competition with over reliance on overloading the wide areas, encroaching full backs coming at full throttle at every possibility in attack and wingers who have the supreme confidence to deliver telling crosses at all costs. Their forwards aerial ability cannot be contested with Tony accounting to the goal against USMA.
On the other side, Sundowns tactical approach has been fresh, matured and well-rehearsed over the years in this competition.
The South Africans have a juicy attacking model that has a mixture of style, precision, fluent movements, technical arrogance and superior approach to away and home matches.
Sundowns have mastered their away match approaches and a draw at Wydad which was celebrated by the Wydad ultras and a professional victory at USMA confirmed their maturity status on the road.
3. The Themba Zwane factor
After a hard fought 2-1 victory against city rivals SuperSport United in the Tshwane Derby on Sunday, Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane hailed the return of midfield maestro Themba “Mshishi” Zwane who missed the midweek 1-0 loss to Orlando Pirates. “Mshishi” is back and he is the one who controls how we play,” confessed Mosimane.
Since returning from a loan spell at the now defunct Mpumalanga Black Aces, Mshishi has been the technical-tactical kingpin of Sundowns by leading the midfield attack with his shrewd ability to play between the lines, cunning stroke to play in the intermediate spaces, roving ability to play in and out of the wide areas and control the midfield possession game characteristic of this Sundowns team.
The fact that he has added a different dimension to his game—that of scoring goals makes him a dangerous proposition to the opponents and a colossal tactical figure in the overall game model implemented by Mosimane and his technical team.
Expect Zwane to carry out Mosimane’s midfield possession game and ensure the whole team is coded in sync for this match.
On the balance of all probabilities expect Sundowns to ease past Petro and book their number one spot in the group as outright winners but it won’t be a stroll in the park.
By FARPost Reporters