Sundowns looking to ‘kill’ the game at home against Al-Ahly
The teams will contest the tie over two legs with the winner set to play in the final against Wydad or Esperance.
Grant Kekana of Mamelodi Sundowns (Photo by Darren Stewart/Gallo Images)
All roads in Tshwane lead to Loftus Versfeld for Sunday’s much-anticipated African Football League semi-final between Mamelodi Sundowns and Al-Ahly.
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Expect the Brazilians to come out of the blocks firing in what is now dubbed the ‘African derby’ by fans of both teams on social media.
The two teams will contest the tie over two legs with the winner set to play in the final against either Moroccan side Wydad Casablanca or Esperance of Tunisia who will clash in the other semi-final.
In an exclusive interview with Phakaaathi, Sundowns and Bafana Bafana defender Grant Kekana stressed the importance of killing the game as a contest in front of their own fans ahead of the trip to Egypt for next week Wednesday’s second leg.
“We’re definitely going to try to do our best and get a positive result because we know going away is never easy especially in Egypt,” said the versatile Kekana who can play at centre-back or as a full-back.
“We witnessed it last season in the champions league, from just arriving there you feel the hostility. At the stadium there are lasers and booing. Everything becomes difficult but I think we have players who are mature enough to understand what’s at stake.
“As much as those things (hostility) don’t bother us as individuals and as a team, we know there are certain influences on the day that we don’t have control of. So when we play Ahly here at home, we want to get a positive result so that we at least put one foot forward going into the second leg.”
The former SuperSport United man believes that the Tshwane giant’s failure to reach last season’s champions league final has only made them stronger.
“We understand the hurt that comes with just falling short, especially in big competitions,” he concluded.
“I think that hurt has only made us stronger and wiser. We have matured and now we know how to grind out results. We all want one goal and we are together when our backs are against the wall.”
The Percy Tau-led Red Devils arrived in South Africa on Friday and Kekana said pleasantries will be on hold for 90 minutes against his international colleague. The home team recorded a 5-2 victory against Ahly the last time the two teams met at the same venue.
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“I haven’t spoken to Percy, I will probably see him on Sunday when we play. He knows he’s our arrival now,” Kekana said about the former Sundowns striker.
“As much as we get along in the national team, when it comes to Sundowns versus Al-Ahly, there’s a big rivalry so it will be a good contest and one that we are looking forward to.”