Can an injury-plagued Sundowns team really knockout Al Ahly from the CAF Champions League? The Pretoria team has opted to play the match during day time to try and do so. But Ahly will have camped in South Africa for a week by the time the match kicks off on Saturday (7th Mar, 2020) at 1500 CAT.
Sundowns Probable XI: Onyango – Madisha, Arendse, Nascimento, Langerman – Vilakazi, Jali, Kekana, Zwane – Sirino, Mahlambi (4-4-2)
Al Ahly Probable XI: El Shenawy – Fathi, Metwally, Yasser, Maaloul – Sulaya, Dieng – El Shahat, Afsha, Ajayi – Badji (4-2-3-1)
What is at stake?
Sundowns are facing another season where they come out of the CAF Champions League empty-handed. There is a joke of how Masandawana exert themselves competing in Africa but are not quite hitting the ceiling. The team has not yet become a regular in the CAFCL semifinals.
Their opponents, Al Ahly are used to doing well. Pitso Mosimane lauded the Red Devils for being able to “deal with the pressure.” And this time they will be ready to play in Pretoria by having camped in South Africa for a week. Al Ahly has pretty much sealed the Egyptian league title and the CAFCL is all they are left to fight for.
What will the match be like?
The visitors will not have Ramadan Sobhy for this encounter. The explosive winger is out for another two weeks. But Al Ahly did not need him to win the first leg. Weiler will definitely play the same team that won in Cairo. The only position up for a change is in the striking role. He could give Aliou Badji his long awaited CAFCL start after he came on and won a penalty in the first leg.
Things will not be this straightforward for Pitso Mosimane. Not only does he have to deal with injuries and motivate the team, he will also need to figure out a way to surprise Al Ahly. One option for him is to start Phakamani Mahlambi and move Vilakazi to right wing position in place of Maboe. Maboe did not cover himself in glory in the first leg – but neither did the Sundowns performance, if we are being honest.
Al Ahly will match whatever tempo that Sundowns start the match with. Under Weiler, they are always looking to exert themselves in the game. The 2-goal lead gives them a good starting point to force their agenda, in the match, at the expense of Sundowns.
Sundowns 1-2 Al Ahly
Al Ahly can choose to go toe-to-toe with Sundowns or create chances on the counter attack. It is hard to see how they could lose control of this tie. Sundowns best bet is a tactical surprise from Pitso but these are not the kinds of matches coaches use to experiment.