Togo-Port vs Mamelodi Sundowns - Preview

Togo-Port vs Mamelodi Sundowns - Preview

Sundowns will look to conquer Africa once again as they set their sights on a second gold star in what promises to be a mouth-watering Matchday Three tie against Togo-Port. For Masandawana, it seems that tough times are ahead, and their encounter against the Togolese giants will answer the question asked by many: how will they cope without Khama Billiat and Percy Tau? Downs have lost many stars in recent years, and by signing the likes of Andile Jali and top foreign talents, Toni Silva and Jose Ali Meza, Pitso Mosimane and the Sundowns board are showing that no player is irreplaceable as they look for their first win in this year’s CAF Champions League group stage.

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CAF Champions League 
Togo-Port vs Mamelodi Sundowns
Group Stage
Tuesday 17 July   
Stade General Eyadema  
15:00

To Win
Togo-Port 13/10
Draw 21/10
Sundowns 2/1

Togo-Port

When the Champions League group stage draw was first conducted, many looked to Togo-Port as their most favourable fixture, an easy three points, they would suggest. So far, the Togolese side have done nothing to prove their doubters wrong.

In their last CAF fixture, Togo-Port were hammered 3-0 by Moroccan giants and defending champions, Wydad Casablanca. Prior to that, they were humbled 2-1 in front of their home supporters, losing to Horoya.

What will be a positive boost for Togo-Port is that they’re much closer to full fitness than Sundowns, having only went on break at the end of June. However, they have failed to win consecutive matches in 90 minutes since January.

The odds are stacked against them, but the bookmakers seem to be fairly confident that they could upset the applecart, opening them up as 13/10 favourites. Perhaps the fact that Togo-Port moved this fixture from their original stadium, Stade Agoe-Nyive, a 10 000-seater, to the Stade General Eyadema, which holds 15 000 spectators, has something to do with it as African teams abroad usually fill up their stadiums.

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Sundowns

Mamelodi Sundowns will have it all to prove when they come up against Togo-Port. The bookmakers have priced the 2016 African champions up at 2/1, generous odds based on their continental form. Coach ‘Jingles’ and his charges have not lost in this year’s group stages, drawing to both Wydad Casablanca and Horoya – two teams who previously beat their opponents.

It’s been an ebb and flow transfer period for Sundowns so far, losing Khama Billiat to Kaizer Chiefs, while Percy Tau hasn’t reported for training. The positive side to it, is that Downs have managed to attract big-name players early on, ensuring that they don’t miss the void left by two of their star performers last season.

Toni Silva and Jose Ali Meza have been snapped up by Masandawana, with the duo expected to make their first-team debuts with the club.

"I'm very excited for our first game next week. I've been about three or four months without playing, so I'm looking forward to starting again," Silva told KickOff.

"I'm very, very excited to just get in there, to be honest," he concluded.

Gaston Sirino is well-furnished at Downs now, having joined the club in January. Much of the pressure will be on the attacking trio to perform as a combination from the get-go and make the fans forget about the imminent departure of Tau.

It remains to be seen where Andile Jali will be utilised with club-captain, Hlompho Kekana, and Tiyani Mabunda unlikely to give up their midfield spots so willingly. Jali did, however, have a fantastic partnership with Oupa Manyisa from their time at Orlando Pirates, something coach Mosimane could also tinker with.

Sibusiso Vilakazi and Themba Zwane are two players that cannot be forgotten, while Mosimane hinted earlier this year that Jeremy Brockie will feature in much more Champions League matches.

Probable line-ups:
Togo-Port: 4-4-2
Klomegah; Djadja, Ouro-sama, Bourahana, Bode; Yacoubou, Aboubacar, Didi, Kloukpo; Hunlede, Sewonou.

Mamelodi Sundowns: 4-2-3-1
Onyango; Morena, Nascimento, Arendse, Langerman; Kekana, Mabunda; Silva, Sirino, Zwane; Vilakazi.

Prediction: Mamelodi Sundowns (2/1)
It would be very un-Sundowns-like to see their new faces given a starting berth, with the exception of Silva, who will fill the void left by Tau. Still, what the South African champions have at their disposal should, in fact, be good enough. Downs are yet to be defeated so far in the group stages, while Togo-Port are yet to register their first point. By no means will it be a walk in the park, but Masandawana should climb up Group C with a victory.

Written by Jesse Nagel

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