Mamelodi Sundowns boss Rhulani Mokwena raises hopes in CAF Champions League semifinals against champions Wydad Casablanca

Mamelodi Sundowns boss Rhulani Mokwena has raised the confidence level of his team ahead of their semifinals first leg against Wydad Casablanca in Morocco Saturday.

The South African side appear not to afraid the defending champions at their home and a good results will put them in good position for the Champions League final.

Sundowns expect to face a Wydad AC team that will play a slightly higher defensive line than they used to when the two teams meet in their Caf Champions League first leg semi-final tie at the Stade Mohammed V on Saturday.

The Brazilians coach Rhulani Mokwena says he has studied their perennial Champions League adversaries who are now under the guidance of a new coach and has spotted a difference in approach.

“The new coach … there’s not too much in terms of the profile of the team that has changed. The profile of the team before the coach was (that they had) very good players, very aggressive wing play, very aggressive possibility to threaten on the counter attack,” Mokwena explained having said that he and his team had spent time doing video analysis of the opposition.

The Champions League holders have hired Sven Vandenbroeck to replace Juan Carlos Garrido. The Belgian is the club’s fifth coach this season following the departure of Walid Regragui to take charge of Morocco. The trio of Houcine Ammouta, Hassan Benabicha and Mehdi Nafti preceded Garridlo who was sacked even after taking the team to the semis.

Under Vandenbroeck who won his first match 3-1 over Chabab Mohammedia at the weekend, Mokwena has spotted some slight changes.

“(There are) small adaptations of course within the model of play with the new coach, from the defensive perspective. On the pressing, it looks a little bit higher and there’s a bit more emphasis on build up which looks a little bit more with Ben Yada, especially, a bigger influence. But look, we have done lots of hard work and we just have to continue to do the work and profile (the opposition). We have also done the work on profiling him (Vandenbroeck) before he joined. We have profiled him from his various clubs in Saudi Arabia (Abha) and Tanzania (Simba),” Mokwena said.

Mokwena says he expects Wydad to come into the match cock-a-hoop following their victory at the weekend.

“Of course winning always counts for something in football. They know our level and they know that we are a good team, that we can play our football with good profile, good mentality and confidence on any pitch. It’s going be a good game against the defending champions, a good team that’s got a good pedigree in the Champions League and many, many years of competing in the Champions League,” he said.

It makes for an intriguing 11th clash between the two team who know each other pretty well.

“It will be an interesting game between two good teams with two sets of good players. We have to fight and know that nothing is given to us on a silver platter. But we have to enjoy the opportunity because these are moments that come once in a lifetime,” Mokwena said.

For him and a number of players in the Sundowns team, the moments are slowly becoming a regularity given that they have been in the Champions League semi-finals twice before.


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