Caf 2016: Mamelodi Sundowns Face Enyimba

Mamelodi Sundowns will complete their Caf Champions League mission when they tackle Nigerian champions Enyimba in their final Group B clash in Aba. 

Downs have already won the group and qualified for the semifinals with nine points from their previous three games, and now they want to end the group stage with a fourth straight victory.

But they come up against a wounded Enyimba side who have lost all three group matches and will finish rock bottom in the group. 

The Nigerian will be out for pride and determined to make life difficult for the Mzansi champions.

On their official website, Enyimba warned Downs: “Our campaign may be over but we have one final shot to exit with a bang.”
Mamelodi Sundowns 
But Downs’ star midfielder Tiyani Mabunda, who is expected to play a key role in the clash, is not fazed by Emyimba’s threats.

Said Mabunda: “We have been fully briefed by our technical team on the difficulties with regard to travelling to Nigeria for this match. We will be ready for whatever they throw at us. We know it won’t be easy but our mandate is to finish the group with four wins and 12 points.”

Mabunda is important for Downs, as four midfielders – Teko Modise, Themba Zwane, Keagan Dolly and Hlompho Kekana – have been ruled out.

The quartet, plus defender Siyanda Zwane and goalkeeper Denis Onyango, are expected to be sidelined after collecting a booking in previous matches.

A second yellow card against the Nigerian champions would mean that they would miss the first leg of the semifinal against either Zambia’s Zesco United or Moroccan giants Wydad Casablanca.

Mabunda was a revelation in the second round of the league and Champions League campaign earlier this year, and is raring to go.

He is not worried by the fact the players have not had any competitive matches since they beat Zamalek 1-0 at home nearly a month ago.

Explained Mabunda: “We’ve played in a couple of high tempo friendly matches, including a tournament in Namibia, which we won by beating Orlando Pirates 3-1 in the semis and Namibian champions Tigers 4-2 in the final.

“The confidence is sky high following our success in winning the league last season and we have really worked hard. The fact we have not had much rest is not a problem for me.”

This will be the hard-running Mabunda’s second trip to Nigeria, where he played against Warri Wolves while still plying his trade for Black Leopards in the Caf Confederation Cup in 2012.

Said Mabunda: “We lost 3-1 in Nigeria but beat them 2-0 at home to qualify for the next round. So I have an idea of what to expect in Nigeria.”

Zamalek, who were beaten twice by Downs, have qualified as group runners-up after two wins over Enyimba. Sundowns left for Nigeria on Saturday and are due back in the country tomorrow. - Daily Sun 

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