Snl24 | 5 Worrying Factors For Sundowns
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PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA – SEPTEMBER 30: Lucas Ribeiro Costa of Mamelodi Sundowns injured during the CAF Champions League, 2nd preliminary round – leg 2 match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Bumamuru at Lucas Moripe Stadium on September 30, 2023 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)
Mamelodi Sundowns are concerned after they suffered a 2-1 defeat to Wydad Casablanca in the African Football League final first-leg. Soccer Laduma looks at five factors that are worrying for the Brazilians ahead of the second-leg.
With the squad already depleted, Sundowns suffered a fresh blow after Grant Kekana and Thapelo Maseko had to be substituted at half-time in the first-leg.
Before the first-leg in Casablanca, the Brazilians had already confirmed the injuries of Peter Shalulile, Lucas Ribeiro, Sipho Mbule, Bathusi Aubaas, Abubaker Nasir and Siyanda Nyanga, who have all not featured in the tournament at all so far.
2. No longer invincible
The Brazilians conceded for the first time in the AFL tournament after their loss to Wydad and also lost their first game in a continental tournament under head coach Rulani Mokwena.
Mokwena has not been in this situation as a head coach where he has to come from a defeat to overturn a tie in a continental competition and how he and the players react will be crucial.
3. Centre-back position unsettled
Centre-back Mothobi Mvala was dropped in the first-leg against the Red and Whites.
However, after Kekana picked up an injury (status for final yet to be confirmed) and Rivaldo Coetzee conceded an own goal, Sundowns’ centre-back position suddenly looks unsettled ahead of their most important game of the season so far.
4. No strike-force
Sundowns should be commended for reaching the final without their influential strikers, Shalilile and Ribeiro.
However, against a quality side like Wydad, the Brazilians struggled to make an impact in the last third, with Themba Zwane struggling to lead the line, in a very pacy game.
Trailing 2-1 from the first-leg, Sundowns need to come up with a better plan of finishing their chances and creating better chances without their reliable forwards.
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Sundowns travelled up to the north of the continent for the second time in the tournament after also travelling to Cairo and had to play a domestic game during the competition.
In contrast, Wydad will be making a long trip, travelling further down south for the first time after they met North African neighbours Esperance in the semi-finals.
The Red and Whites also have not played any domestic game since the AFL started, which means they could be fresher than Sundowns.
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