Zamalek’s different playing style much more challenging than Zesco’s, Mosimane warns
Mamelodi Sundowns must be careful not to underestimate Egyptian club Zamalek when they meet them in next month’s African Champions League final after beating them twice in the group phase of this year’s competition‚ coach Pitso Mosimane warned.
Saturday night’s 2-0 win over Zesco United of Zambia in the second leg of the semifinal ensured progress to the final and a chance to become continental champions.
But to do so they will need to again get the better of the wily Egyptians and not take them lightly.
“It would be the biggest mistake we could ever do because they are more complex than Zesco. Zesco played long balls‚ that’s all. If you deal with the long balls‚ then no problem.
“There is no combination play in the midfield but when you play Zamalek you are up against Hefny‚ Hosni‚ Shikabalala. They are unbelievably good. So it will be totally different. We need to just now forget the tactics we have used against Zesco and took to bring back how we played against Zamalek.
“But let’s be honest‚ Zamalek will not be happy to play us either‚” Mosimane said. “We have a different specimen of a team that the Arabs find uncomfortable to play against. We struggled more against the teams in the region because we play a little bit the same. Remember Chicken Inn of Zimbabwe in the first round? (Sundowns needed a last-minute goal to go through the next round). But the north Africans struggle a little with the way we play.”
Sundowns beat Zamalek 2-1 in Cairo behind closed doors and a fortnight later 1-0 in Atteridgeville‚ benefiting from a late own goal‚ in the group phase of the competition.
They now meet the Egyptians again in the final‚ hosting the first leg at Atteridgeville on October 15, with the return match in Cairo one week later.
Mosimane said hosting the first leg of the final at home was no disadvantage.
“The last time we played our first leg at home we beat Leopards [of Congo] 2-0 and then we went there and got a 1-1 draw. It doesn’t matter therefore‚ when we play away and when we play home.”
Saturday night’s 2-0 win over Zesco in the second leg of the final came with goals from Anthony Laffor and Percy Tau.
It was a rare start for Laffor‚ who also scored the decisive goal in the MTN8 semifinal against Chippa United just thee days earlier.
“He is a player for the big occasion‚” Mosimane said.
“When we play some of the smaller team it is like he is not even there, but give him a big stage and he is ready.”
Zamalek, who last played in the final 14 years ago, advanced 6-5 on aggregate despite losing 5-2 to their Moroccan opponents in Rabat.
A 4-0 victory in last weekend’s first leg gave Zamalek a comfortable platform for the return match but they were shaken by a dramatic comeback from Wydad.
William Jebor scored twice to help Wydad to a 3-1 halftime lead and a pair from Fabrice Ondama after the break extended the score to 5-1 – putting the sides level on aggregate but with Wydad still needing one more to win the tie.
With 10 minutes left, Zamalek scored on the counter attack through Stanley Ohawuchi to end the home hopes.
Wydad had fired John Toshack as coach after the first leg defeat and on Monday appointed Sebastien Desabre as his replacement, with the Frenchman coming close to engineering the biggest comeback in African club competition history. – TMG Digital/TMG Sport, Reuters