As the old saying goes: Champions don’t rest.
Mamelodi Sundowns will be back in action on Friday as they tackle home side Al Hilal in Sudan, Omdurman in a penultimate Caf Champions League group stage match on Friday.
The Brazilians are at the summit of their group with 12 points after sealing victory in their opening four games.
In the first leg against the ‘Blue Wave’, Sundowns secured a 2-0 win at the Lucas “Masterpieces” Moripe Stadium and will be eager to salvage some pride for South Africa as the Sudan national team dashed Bafana Bafana’s hopes of qualifying for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) with a 2-0 win at Al Hilal Stadium on Sunday.
“The game against Al Hilal is very important and more important for us as South Africans, after what happened a couple of days ago. The pain was greatly inflicted by the Sudanese National team and in this moment, we have to do what is best and represent the nation and salvage a little bit of pride,” said Sundowns co-coach, Rulani Mokwena.
Mokwena went on to state that it is imperative that Sundowns adapt to the local conditions well enough if they are to beat Al Hilal once again, this time around in their own backyard.
“We have had training in the main stadium since Tuesday to allow ourselves to adapt to the conditions and to prepare thoroughly‚ because three days before the match is always complicated‚” said Mokwena.
“It is a hard and bumpy pitch, and it is very hot. We have two very important sessions left before match day, there is no time to rest.
“There is some travel fatigue‚ but it is important for the players to make some form of tactical and technical adaptation. It is a hard surface that is extremely bumpy‚ and it is very hot outside.”
The Confederation of African Football also confirmed that the kickoff time of the clash will now be at 15:00 as opposed to the original time of 18:00
“The reality is the stadium is not 100% from the electrical perspective, the reports are the light is not good as we saw in the Bafana Bafana game. If the pitch is like this, they had to change so that we don’t have any complications. It works for our advantage as we will leave immediately after the game and that will give us more rest.
“It is not the best conditions, but you must make quicker adaptation further away from match day.
“That will allow for better performances and it will also help to activate the body so that we are ready to go.”
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By Tokelo Martin Mokhesi