Botswana champions Jwaneng Galaxy coach Sikalame Keatlholetswe has reiterated that they will not be giving Mamelodi Sundowns too much respect when they host them in a Caf Champions League first round, first leg clash on Tuesday at the Lobatse Stadium.
‘Six’, a former army man, does not believe there is a gulf in quality between the two sides despite Sundowns’ recent exploits and history in the competition.
“I see no difference between the two teams, we are both Caf and Fifa members, we are champions here and they are champions that side,” Keatlholetswe told the state-owned Daily News.
It does not matter to Keatlholetswe that his charges have not played any competitive football since coronavirus shut the door on football activities in the diamond-rich nation in March. Galaxy were then crowned champions in June after the Botswana Football Association (BFA) felt it would be unsustainable to finish off the campaign.
That decision earned them the right to represent the neighbouring country for the first time in the Caf Champions League. Their only participation in Africa thus far was a preliminary round exit from the 2018 Caf Confederation Cup.
“This is the moment we have been waiting for,” Keatlholetswe vowed. Galaxy were uncompromising in the preliminary round, dismissing Zilimadjou from Comoros 5-2 on aggregate.
They boast talents like striker Resaobaka Thatanyane, experienced defender Isaac Paeye and a man who makes them tick in midfield Thero Setsile alongside Lemogang Maswena. The return of talented goalkeeper Ezekiel Morake on a two-year deal also comes as a boost.
Sundowns’ co-coach Rulani Mokwena said they would treat the diamond miners with respect.
“Of course, Galaxy are a good team. We will get footage from our analysts and advance team that went to Botswana,” Mokwena told Sundowns’ media. “You can see with the (Botswana) national team that there is a resurgence in football. We have to make sure that we are well-prepared.” The return leg will be played on January 6 in Pretoria.
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By Mthokozisi Dube