Sundowns closing in on continental glory

Sundowns closing in on continental glory

BackpagePixAhead of the second leg of the CAF Champions League final, Njabulo Ngidi looks at Sundowns best and worst performances on the road this year. Photo: Samuel ShivambuMamelodi Sundowns flew to Egypt today for the most important trip in the club’s history. If they protect their 3-0 lead from the first leg of the CAF Champions League final, they will return as African champions for the first time after the second leg in Alexandria on Sunday. Njabulo Ngidi looks at their best and worst performances on the road this year.Worst Performance on the RoadThe first time the Brazilians crossed the border to start their Champions League campaign, a 19-match unbeaten run ended at the hands of Chicken Inn in Bulawayo. It was a rude reminder to Sundowns that getting a result away in the Champions League is tough business. The trick is to try to limit the damage as much as possible and then make up for it at home. They mastered that aspect well because they won all the eight matches they played at home on the continent this year.Their worst performance on the road though came in the Democratic Republic of Congo against AS Vita and Ghana in Medeama. The defeat in Ghana was the most crushing because it came after they were eliminated in the Champions League and demoted to the CAF Confederation Cup play-offs.The Brazilians left for Sekondi-Takoradi looking to protect a 3-1 advantage. They started with an ultra-defensive line-up.Soumahoro Bangaly sat just in front of the back four, forcing Sundowns to do something that they aren’t used to – defend. That allowed Medeama space to attack them.But the club had to deal with more than just a rampant attack. The Ghanaians played a number of tricks on Sundowns.It ranged from denying them access to the match venue to train a day before the game, refusing them keys to their change-room and installing a Medeama official next to their bench during the game.The Brazilians didn’t handle that well. They lost their cool. They ended up fighting two battles, off the field pressure and the game.They ended up being too distracted for the game and lost 2-0. In Kinshasa the conditions were less volatile but they fluffed many chances.After handling wave after wave of Vita’s attack, they were finally broken at the death by Kule Mbombo.AS Vita 1-0 Mamelodi Sundowns – Kinshasa, April 10Medeama 2-0 Mamelodi Sundowns – Sekondi-Takoradi, May 18Best Performance on the RoadThe trip to Ghana taught Sundowns how to deal with everything thrown their way. In Setif they had it worse than Sekondi-Takoradi. The fans attacked them by throwing missiles onto the pitch to stop the match at 2-0.That episode didn’t shake them, instead they focused on the job at hand and got the result.It was a mature performance from the Brazilians who dominated their opponents on the field and took whatever the supporters threw at them. …

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