“We are conquering against all odds” is the motto the Mamelodi Sundowns faithful have undertaken from head coach Pitso Mosimane in their CAF Champions League journey.
This was an encouraging statement made by ‘Jingles’ as the coach is affectionately known, in response to juggling their CAF Champions League and domestic campaign. Needless to say, the club has lived up to the motto as 90-minutes stand in their way of being crowned African club champions for the first time.
Sundowns are on the verge of lifting the most sought after trophy in continental club football after transforming the Lucas Moripe Stadium into a sea of yellow in the first leg, thrashing Zamalek 3-0 in the process to draw first blood in the two-legged final.
The lively atmosphere from Saturday has continued all around Pretoria ever since and has seen people from the nation’s capital donning the yellow and blue of the club throughout the week.
The match also grabbed the attention of the world after renowned sprinter Usain Bolt showed his allegiance to the Brazilians after posing with the club jersey earlier in the week.
This week has been no different with Pretoria’s most supported Rugby club, the Blue Bulls wishing their counterparts the best of luck in Egypt. South African Minister of Sport and Recreation Fikile Mbalula also showed his backing with his presence at the club’s final training session on Wednesday where he encouraged the club to make the nation proud and cross the finish line.
The township of Mamelodi has been liveliest in their support of their beloved club all week, wearing the club jerseys and putting up posters on vehicles and waving the club flag everywhere in the streets.
This is where most of the travelling fans will be coming from after the club announced that they will be travelling with at least 100 fans to the Borg El Arab Stadium where glory beckons for the Brazilians should they protect their lead.
Former national team player, who lifted the coveted Champions League trophy with Orlando Pirates in 1995, Edward Motale sang the club’s praises ahead of the ultimate fixture. The 50-year-old defender who was known for his hard tackling is also from Pretoria and is amongst a number of South African football legends that have put their voices behind Sundowns.
“The townships in Pretoria are abuzz with excitement and it really feels great to be from Pretoria thanks to Sundowns. The atmosphere reminds me of the support we had back in 1995 when we had to travel to Abidjan for the final encounter against Asec Mimosas. Everyone, including former players are behind the boys and wish them the best of luck,” said Motale.
Motale also had some words of encouragement to ease the nerves of playing in front of more than 80 000 loud fans.
“They need to remain calm in the hostile reception that they will get and just focus on the prize. Egyptian fans are very vocal and intimidating so it is very important that they stick to the coach’s instructions and focus on the price at hand,” said Motale.
Should Sundowns emerge victorious in Alexandria, they will be the first South African club to represent the continent at the FIFA Club World Cup in December in Japan.