Sport / Phakaaathi / Local Soccer

Ntokozo Gumede
Football Writer
2 minute read
22 Oct 2021
12:44 pm

Sundowns vying for Maniema at merry Loftus slaughterhouse

Ntokozo Gumede

The two sides played to a 2-2 draw in the first leg in Congo last weekend.

Mamelodi Sundowns will look to continue their good run at Loftus Versfeld when they host Maniema Union of DRC in the return leg of the Champions League group stage qualifiers on Sunday. Picture: (Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Mamelodi Sundowns have always been obsessed with the idea of making Loftus Versfeld Stadium a fortress and they have done that so well over the last couple of years, particularly in the DStv Premiership.

While most of their slaughtering in the Champions League took place at their alternative Lucas Moripe Stadium, Downs will look to continue their home dominance at Loftus when they host Maniema Union in the return-leg of the group stage qualifier this Sunday.

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Sundowns held the Congolese side 2-2 last week and given their history at home and with the two away goals, the odds are slightly stacked against the visitors, but Downs co-head coach Manqoba Mngqihi does not want to dwell much on the past.    

“Our home record has always been good but history is not the most important thing, we just have to focus on the match at hand and see it through. The fact that we have scored two goals away from home might mean nothing in this game because if they score a goal we are already trialing.

We have to find a way to make sure that we still dominate all the facets of the game and we still fight to win the match,” said the Masandawana mentor.

Maniema arrived in the country on Wednesday while Sundowns were battling out with Golden Arrows in the league. Mngqithi could easily throw the ‘they are a well-rested team’ phrase, but he does not see much of an advantage for Maniema, who last kicked a ball about a week ago.  

“It might be an advantage and a disadvantage because they also had travelling to do. When we look at travelling we usually focus on the flying time which is about four hours. But on a travelling day, you have to be at the airport for two to three hours before departure and after you arrive you are still at the airport for about an hour.

“Having your players on their feet for that long can be more tiring than the actual game. I would not say they are in a better state because they came early to try and adapt and that may not be easy for a team that is coming from the kind of weather conditions they are coming from,” said Mngqithi.

He adds: “The fact that we played in mid-week might be something but we are now used to the culture of playing mid-week and over the weekend. our body clock is already used to that process and we would not want to use that as an excuse because we have a team that is capable of competing in this game.”