OUTSPOKEN Mamelodi Sundowns gaffer Pitso Mosimane has adopted a cautious approach ahead of their crunch 2016 Caf Champions League first leg preliminary round fixture against Chicken Inn preferring to describe his opponents as a very good side.
The Zimbabwe champions will play host to Sundowns for the first leg encounter on the weekend of 12-14 February before they travel to South Africa for the second leg two weeks later.
Mosimane told the Sundowns’ website in a wide-ranging discussion on Tuesday that they were doing their homework.
“We have been drawn against a very good side,” said Mosimane. In fact, I think our draw is tougher than (Kaizer) Chiefs. Chicken Inn is not an easy team,” he added.
He also pointed to the Gamecock’s success record –ending the reign of Dynamos who had won the league the previous four seasons.
“They are a young team, and we signed Kuda Mahachi from them. We are doing our homework, but we also have held our pre-season camps in Zimbabwe the past two years, and we are quite familiar with the environment and the stadium, which is more like Orlen Park, the stadium Jomo Cosmos use in Potchefstroom,” stated Mosimane.
Mamelodi Sundowns have since loaned out Mahachi to fellow Absa Premiership club Golden Arrows.
Under the guidance of Joey Antipas, Prince Matore and former player Sikhumbuzo “China” Banda, Chicken Inn qualified for Africa’s biggest continental club tournament by virtue of winning the 2015 Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League, while Dynamos secured the second spot after FC Platinum succumbed to draws and defeats in the final stages of the tournament.
Chicken Inn, who have gifted players that include captain Danny Phiri, goalkeeper Elvis Chipezeze , Thabani Goredema, veteran Clemence Matawu, Edmore Chirambadare, Tafadzwa Kutinyu, newboys Obadiah Tarumbwa and Teenage Hadebe , are in the competition for the first time.
The Brazilians have been in the tournament for several occasions. The Gamecocks will be eager to prove their local championship credentials while on the other hand Mamelodi Sundowns will want to put past disappointments behind them and make it into the group stages this year.
The Champions League group stage qualifiers will be decided after three rounds by the end of April.
The 2016 CAF Champions League (officially the 2016 Orange CAF Champions League for sponsorship reasons) will be the 52nd edition of Africa’s premier club football tournament organised by the Confederation of African Football (CAF), and the 20th edition under the current CAF Champions League format.