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Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Preview: Ahly's Mosimane out to tame 'monster' against ex-club Sundowns

Ahly meet Mamelodi Sundowns in the African Champions League quarter-final for the third consecutive year

Hatem Maher , Friday 14 May 2021
Ahly v Sundowns
Mamelodi Sundowns' forward Gaston Sirino Rodriguez (R) fights for the ball with Ahly's midfielder Aliou Dieng (L) during the CAF Champions League Quarter-final second leg match between South Africa's Mamelodi Sundowns and Egypt's Ahly (file photo: AFP)
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Pitso Mosimane faces the club he led to African glory with the aim of knocking them out of the Champions League as Ahly host South Africa's Mamelodi Sundowns in the first leg of the competition's quarters on Saturday.

Both sides are familiar with each other, having faced off at the same stage in the past two seasons.

Mosimane was in charge of Sundowns on both occasions, and maybe one of the reasons Ahly went for him last year is that he had inflicted their worst ever defeat in an African competition -- a stunning 5-0 reverse in Pretoria in 2019.

But the 56-year-old was on the losing side last year as Ahly took revenge with a 3-1 aggregate quarter-final victory, with Mosimane then taking charge of the Red Devils before the semi-final stage and leading them to a long-awaited Champions League crown with a memorable 2-1 win over Cairo nemesis Zamalek in the final.

Mosimane, a serial winner, was best known for introducing an attractive brand of attacking football with Sundowns, whom he led to a host of domestic honours as well as the 2016 Champions League crown.

His early months with Ahly suggested that he would keep faith with his trademark flowing football as they also won the Egypt Cup and finished third at the FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar.

However, a fixture pile-up due to lengthy stoppages caused by COVID-19 has taken its toll on Ahly, with a series of injuries hitting the team as they laboured with some lethargic and inconsistent displays in recent matches.

Sundowns look in a better shape as they lead the South African league table with a seven-point advantage over their nearest challengers and with a game in hand.

"Sundowns is a good team. I created a monster that is coming back to bite me," Mosimane told a news conference following Ahly's 1-1 draw with Zamalek in the Cairo derby on Monday.

"It's ok, it's football. I saw Guardiola playing against Barcelona when he was at Bayern and he lost to Barcelona. I hope I don't lose."

Sundowns' veteran keeper Denis Onyango is relishing the prospect of coming up against Mosimane, who delivered Ahly's first Champions League title since 2013 last year.

"We anticipate a very tough encounter, looking at the fact that we've played them I think now this is the third time in a row," the Ugandan shot-stopper said on Sundowns' official website.

"We are facing our former coach, it makes it a little bit interesting for us and also for them."

Ahly are still missing influential left-back Ali Maaloul, who has been out of action since picking up a hamstring injury against Bayern Munich in the Club World Cup semis in February. They are also still without midfield linchpin Hamdi Fathi.

Sundowns have doubts over the fitness of talisman Themba Zwane.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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