DStv Premiership Mamelodi Sundowns

Sundowns midfielder Allende celebrates a goal against Al Ahly. Image: Gerhard Duraan/Sports Inc

Cavin Johnson hopes Sundowns make a big statement in Algeria

Former Al Ahly assistant coach Cavin Johnson hopes Mamelodi Sundowns will continue to
cause havoc in the CAF Champions League this weekend

DStv Premiership Mamelodi Sundowns

Sundowns midfielder Allende celebrates a goal against Al Ahly. Image: Gerhard Duraan/Sports Inc

Ahead of their crucial CAF Champions League Quarter-final encounter against CR Belouizdad this coming weekend, Mamelodi Sundowns have to make a statement as former Al Ahly coach Cavin Johnson says.

Johnson exclusively spoke to The South African to look at the DStv Premiership champions’ chances in their quest to bag their second continental title.

He argues that the 2016 African champions are always under pressure to win their matches and that coach Rulani Mokwena has to continue where he left off in the tournament.

Sundowns emerged as Group B winners after securing four wins, including two draws – the former Platinum Stars manager reckons the Tshwane giants have signalled their intentions in African football.

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The Brazilians head to Algeria as they will face Belouizdad for the second time in the premier continental tournament.

Looking at the statistics, the South African champions were handed a 2-0 defeat before registering a 5-0 victory in the same competition.

In addition, the astute manager who previously worked with Pitso Mosimane at Al Ahly in Egypt says Masandawana are a big club and are under pressure heading to North Africa.

“Look, it’s the same at Ahly, you are always under pressure. This is a big club and results are always needed. Sundowns are one of the big clubs in Africa,” Johnson told The South African.

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“They have to go to Algeria and make a statement, they have to really come out and do their best. An ideal result for them depends on how they structure their team, they have 180 minutes, 90 at home and away.

“In my opinion, if Rulani is able to get a draw with goals then it’s an advantage for Sundowns. If he gets a goalless draw, he can still get a win at home.

“If he doesn’t win it away then he still has a chance to win this one at home. Belouizdad is not a bad team, they are always in the CAF Confederation Cup or Champions League – it’s going to be tough for Sundowns.

“I believe they have the quality to make that statement because they have forced the Africans to look at us with a different eye.”

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Coming back to their domestic campaign, the new league champions are yet to win a match since beating Coton Sport in their final Group B match at Loftus Versfeld Stadium about three weeks ago.

They were held by Cape Town City, Swallows FC as well as Golden Arrows before succumbing to a 2-1 loss in the Nedbank Cup at the hands of Stellenbosch FC last weekend.

In his analysis, the 64-year-old manager feels squad rotation might have affected the club but he also says the technical team and the players might be focusing on winning their second star.

“Look, I don’t think there’s a drop in their identity maybe it’s a drop in collecting maximum points and when I look at it, they’ve won the league already. In essence, it’s the mentality now,” he added.

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“I feel the mentality in one moment, there’s been a lot of changes in the team or squad rotation within the last four games and that can be one of the problems if I can call it a problem.

“I think the mentality of the players is focusing on the Champions League. I don’t see there is a problem – maybe it was the time to lose points in order to gain momentum heading to the Champions League.

“Remember Sundowns made a big statement in the group stages. They beat Ahly and gave them five, they won tough games with big margins – they sent a message to the rest of Africa.”

The match will be played at Stade Nelson Mandela Stadium on Saturday at 21:00 (CAT).