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By Katlego Modiba

Football Journalist

Sundowns’ Mokwena wants to keep on winning in ‘hostile’ Lubumbashi

Mokwena ranks TP Mazembe as one of the three most hostile environments to visit in African club football.

Mamelodi Sundowns might have conquered their North African rivals on their way to claiming the inaugural African Football League (AFL) but they have another tough assignment in Lubumbashi on Saturday.

Sundowns will confront DRC giants TP Mazembe in their second match of the CAF Champions League group stages after bushing aside FC Nouadhibou of Mauritania on Sunday.

The Brazilians were triumphant in the AFL and took the scalps of traditional heavyweights of continental football Petro de Luanda, Al-Ahly and Wydad Casablanca in the process.

Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena is well aware that the five-time Champions League winners will pose a much tougher test than Nouadhibou for the DStv Premiership champions.

“It’s important to keep our momentum going and this is a very important game for us,” the 36-year-old said about traveling to Central Africa.

“In my experience in the Champions League, there are probably three very hostile environments and Lubumbashi is one of them. If not number one then they are number two or three.

“But we have now played in Casablanca, Cairo and Algeria. Those places were very hostile too. Mazembe are a physical team and play on an artificial pitch. I watched them against Pyramids FC as a spectator but I can’t say much because I have to do a lot of homework first and look back at this SuperSport United game and do corrections.”

Sundowns beat SuperSport United 2-0 in the DStv Premiership on Wednesday evening to make it nine league wins in a row to start the season.

Form in the DRC

Masandawana have dominated this fixture between the two teams, winning four of the last five encounters. Their last trip to the DRC ended in a 2-1 victory two years ago. Lyle Lakay scored a 90th minute winner, with Peter Shalulile also on the scoresheet.

“We have to recover the team first before we can even talk about Mazembe,” Mokwena said.

“We have to rest and prepare for what’s going to be a very difficult trip away from home. They are a tough team to play and you could see the level of physicality in their last game against Pyramids FC
– that is Champions league football for you.”

The home team will be looking to get their campaign back on track following a 1-0 narrow defeat to Egyptians Pyramids FC in the opening round.

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