Mamelodi Sundowns Head Coach, Pitso Mosimane, is in a bullish mood ahead of what is expected to be a humdinger of a match when the holders play host to Wydad Athletic Club of Morocco in a quarter final first leg on Sunday, 17 September 2017, at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Pretoria.
The 'Brazilians' as the South Africans are nicknamed have had a bit of a rocky start to the season, having been knocked out of the domestic Top '8' Cup competition and suffering a loss in the three-week old South African premiership.
The Pretoria-based club go into the game against 1992 winners, Wydad, on a high note after a 2-1 away win over Free State Stars in the domestic league on Monday, 11 September 2017. However, he insists continental football is a different ball game all together and his charges need no motivation in defending the most treasured crown in their decorated trophy cabinet.
Mosimane has made some notable signings to his side which include former Orlando Pirates skipper, Oupa Manyisa, as well as Kaizer Chiefs winger, George Lebese, who hails from the club's township of Mamelodi.
The exciting pair of Keletso Magkalwa and Thendo Mukumela who represented Amajita (South Africa U-20 team) at both the Total U-20 Africa Cup of Nations Zambia 2017 and the FIFA U-20 World Cup few months ago in Korea Republic have been promoted to the senior team by Mosimane to ensure that he has a beefed-up squad that can compete across all borders.
The Sundowns trainer tells CAFOnline.com that defending the title will be slightly difficult now that most clubs have studied how they play.
"Our journey to reaching this stage of the competition hasn't been easy. We have become the team to beat this time around, purely based on the fact that we are the defending champions. Unlike last season, we didn't have the champions title next to our name, but now clubs have studied our strengths and are now are planning better against us. That is what comes with being a champion," said Mosimane.
The 53-year-old coach is wary of the danger posed by the North Africans, an experienced side as far as continental club football is concerned. The Moroccans were semi-finalists last year, and their only triumphs in the premier continental club championship dates back over two decades.
"I don't want to underestimate them (Wydad) but at the same time I don't fear them.
"We are playing a team that has a wealth of CAF Champions League experience and can hurt us if we not careful so we need to be highly alert throughout the match. A win here at home is non-negotiable," added Mosimane.
In a clear intent of creating an intimidating environment for their opponents, the club has offered to open the gates free of charge to fans who come to the stadium in Sundowns replicas and half-price for others.
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