PSL

Japan, here come the Brazilians!

2016-12-04 06:14
soccer, psl, mamelodi sundowns, gallo
Mamelodi Sundowns (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - A week from today, Mamelodi Sundowns will become the first southern African club to feature in the Fifa Club World Cup.

The CAF Champions League champions will jet out of the country on Monday to test their mettle against the best in the world and are hoping to represent the continent with aplomb.

This will be the best time for the country’s best club to shine on the global stage.

There won’t be any other opportunity for the players to showcase their talents except at this tournament, where they will rub shoulders with some of the best in the business from other continents.

If there is a time for players to die with their boots on, it has to be in Japan, where the likes of Percy Tau, Khama Billiat, Sibusiso Vilakazi and Keagan Dolly have a chance to attract overseas scouts.

Billiat will want to show why he was voted the best in the domestic league at the end of last season, while Dolly and Tau are also looking to secure overseas moves. But only an exceptional display will do the talking for them.

The Brazilians will take on either Auckland City (New Zealand) or J-League champions (Japan), who play in the first round on Thursday.

Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane has already said they were not going to Japan to add numbers, but to compete.

Knowing Mosimane, this cannot be far from the truth as he wants to make a mark on the world stage.

With the prospects of playing against Uefa champions Real Madrid in the final, Sundowns players need no motivation to go all the way.

Mosimane is a fighter and will want his players to show that fighting spirit on the field.

Just like the Fifa World Cup, Africa has so far not won this club competition and Sundowns want to become the first club from the continent to do so.

The best that African representatives have done was lose in the final.

Democratic Republic of Congo’s TP Mazembe and Raja Casablanca of Morocco lost to Inter Milan and Bayern Munich in the 2010 and 2013 finals, respectively.

Egyptian giants Al Ahly, who have dominated the continent with eight titles, could only finish third in 2006 after beating Mexico’s America to bronze.

Sundowns have the opportunity to rewrite history by becoming the first African side to lift this trophy.

If they manage to win their quarter-final against the winner between the J-League champions and Auckland City, they will face Atlético Nacional, the winners of the South American Copa Libertadores, in the semi-final.

Meanwhile, the Brazilians’ captain and defensive midfielder, Hlompho Kekana, did not garner enough votes to make this year’s Fifa Puskas Award shortlist.

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AmaZulu FC v Free State Stars, King Zwelithini Stadium 15:00
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