Get Behind Downs

This weekend Mamelodi Sundowns will play one of the most important games in the club’s history.  They take on Zamalek in the first leg of the CAF Champions League final in Atteridgeville, and will not need to be reminded what exactly is at stake here.  First of all, when their billionaire president Patrice Motsepe took over at the Chloorkop-based side over a decade ago, he made it clear that all he wants is to “conquer Africa”.

All the coaches that have been there since his reign started, including those who have won the league like Gordon Igesund, Neil Tovey/Miguel Gramondi, and now Pitso Mosimane know good and well that just winning the league is a mere step at Sundowns and not the ultimate goal.  A true epitome of “to whom much is given, much is expected”.  And we do know that Patrice puts a lot of money into that club.

Keagan Dolly of Mamelodi Sundowns challenged by Ahmed Hassan of Zamalek during the CAF Champions League match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Zamalek at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa on July 27, 2016 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Photo credit: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Secondly, the full weight of the nation will be on the shoulders of those eleven players on the field to get some sort of continental ?genuflection and approbation.?  We have long lost our aura as a footballing powerhouse, and a win here in the two-legged tie (I think it is unnecessary) for Sundowns will certainly get us a few salutes.

I have always maintained that for Bafana Bafana to genuinely compete in the continent, we need a strong Sundowns, Chiefs, and Pirates on the continent.  That’s just how it is the world over.  Most national teams win things because their biggest teams are taking the confederation competitions seriously.

Pitso Mosimane, coach of Mamelodi Sundowns during the 2016 CAF Champions League match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Zesco at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa on September 24, 2016 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Photo credit: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

There is no doubt that this is the best team in SA by a mile right now, and being the best on the continent would just be even better.  Perhaps this might also vindicate Pitso’s statements that this is the best Sundowns team ever.   A lot of eyebrows were raised when he said this a couple of weeks ago.

I mean I don’t deny that they have had great players before who won the league three consecutive times in the late 90s.  They have had Mambush Mudau, Raphael Chukwu, Roger Feutmba, Lovers Mohlala, John Tlale and the likes before, but they did not do the ultimate.  To this day, when people talk about Orlando Pirates’ greatest team, they refer to the ’95 team that won the famous star.

Percy Tau celebrates his goal with with Thabo Nthethe of Mamelodi Sundowns during the CAF Champions League match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Zamalek at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa on July 27, 2016 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Photo credit: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

That was over 20 years ago.  They do not talk about Kosta Papic’s 2004/5 team that was simply mesmerising.  They do not talk about Ruud Krol’s team that won the treble six years ago, and the one the year after.  People remember those who made the biggest impact.

So this here is an opportunity for the likes of Dolly, Billiat, Kekana, Modise, Onyango, Langermaan, Laffor etc to get a slice of history.  To make sure their names are never forgotten.  And every time the Lucas Moripe faithful wear that star with pride, they will pay tribute to these players.

Leonardo Castro of Mamelodi Sundowns challenged by Ibrahim Ekhaek Sayed of Zamalek during the CAF Champions League match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Zamalek at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa on July 27, 2016 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Photo credit: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Downs have beaten Zamalek before in the group phase of this competition.  So it is not a question of being able to beat them, it is about making sure that they do all they can here at home because they are guaranteed a very hostile match in Alexandria.  It is very disappointing to me that I cannot smell the hype in the air.

The sense of something big happening this weekend is just not the same as when Pirates was going to play the same game in 2013.  This week is very crucial for the Sundowns players and they need to feel us.  They need to feel that we are behind them and are one with them. 

Denis Onyango of Sundowns during the 2016 CAF Champions League  match between Enyimba and Sundowns  in Portharcourt on 23th August 2016 at Adokiye Amiesimeka Stadium © Kabiru Abubakar@Backpagepix

Photo credit: Kabiru Abubakar@Backpagepix

They need to see it in the streets, hear about it on our radios and televisions.  But most of all, they need to see it in the stands come their day of days.  I understand that you will get in for just R20 if you are wearing a Sundowns jersey on Saturday.  So you really do not have an excuse if you live in and around Atteridgeville.

Whether you go sing “Asambe Nono” or “sounds the call to come together”, just be there to support the guys and make life difficult for the Egyptians.  I say this because when the second leg comes, not only will they compete with the eleven on the field, but there will also be the eye lasers, the match officials, the media, the hotel staff, the police and more against our boys.  So let us do our part.

Khama Billiat of Mamelodi Sundowns during the 2016 CAF Champions League match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Zesco at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa on September 24, 2016 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Photo credit: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

I would like to wish Jingles Mosimane and the lads all the best, and let them know that their victory is our victory as South Africans.  Ka bo Yellow!