South-Africa

Make-or-break squeeze will test Sundowns

2016-09-18 05:18
RELIABLE Thabo Nthethe Picture: Gallo Images

Mamelodi Sundowns are entering a make-or-break week that will show how much resolve they have.

The Brazilians have two cup “finals” – the CAF Champions League and the MTN8 – within three days of each other.

Still chasing a double, they may end up with nothing by the end of the week.

It may be tempting fate to say so, but the club with the biggest budget and best squad is in danger of ending the week empty-handed.

Pitso Mosimane will have a selection headache ahead of the two crucial games.

Should he go with his full-strength team into the MTN8 or reserve them for the Champions League encounter?

Whichever way, and depending on his ambition, he has a tough choice to make.

The first hurdle for Mosimane is Dan Malesela’s resurgent Chippa United in the second leg of the MTN8 semifinal tie on Wednesday night, which promises to be a cracker.

No PSL team, Sundowns included, are playing as well as the Chilly Boys. They will go into the game full of confidence after a first-leg draw.

Sundowns, who might have disappointed last weekend when they played to a goalless draw away from home, will get a chance to restore their pride in front of their home supporters.

They certainly would have made life easier for them with the away victory last weekend. That would have allowed them to rest a few key players for Saturday’s game.

They must win to advance to the final of the R8 million winner-takes-all competition.

After failing to score away from home, they will have their work cut out for them if Chippa scores the all-important away goal, which will require them to bang in two goals, to advance.

Three days later, in the second leg of the Champions League at the same venue, they have probably the biggest challenge, Zesco United of Zambia.

After coming thus far to the semifinals, Mosimane cannot afford to let things slip.

This is the best chance to conquer the continent, something their boss, Patrice Motsepe, dreams of.

They are still to taste defeat in this tournament and will again have to use home ground advantage.

The absence of Colombian striker Leonardo Castro certainly affected them last weekend.

He is expected to be out for at least five weeks with an injury from two weeks ago.

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