Mamelodi Sundowns are the 'Denmark' of the Champions League

By Mark GleesonBBC Sport, Pretoria
Mamelodi Sundowns
Mamelodi Sundowns

Mamelodi Sundowns have become the 'Denmark' of the African Champions League, according to their coach Pitso Mosimane.

The South African club booked their place in the 2016 final against Zamalek of Egypt by beating the Zambian outfit Zesco United 2-0 in the second leg of their semi-final on Saturday night.

It continues a dramatic renaissance for the Pretoria side who had been knocked out earlier by DR Congo's AS Vita Club.

However, Sundowns were dramatically reinstated and given a place in the group phase when Vita were disqualified for using an ineligible player in the opening rounds of the competition.

Have Mamelodi got the upper hand over Zamalek?
Mamelodi Sundowns have already beaten Zamalek twice in 2016 in the group phase of the African Champions League. A 2-1 in Cairo behind closed doors followed by a 1-0 win a fortnight later at their home.

In between that loss and subsequent reinstatement Sundowns dropped down to the Confederation Cup and subsequently been knocked out of that tournament by Ghana's Medeama.

Sundowns have taken the opportunity with both hands, winning four group matches and topping the standings before going on to eliminate Zesco 3-2 on aggregate in the last four.

Denmark in 1992 were called up at the last minute to take the place of the war-torn Yugoslavia at the European Championship in Sweden.

Weeks later they had clinched an unprecedented victory that remains the reference for unlikely footballing comebacks.

"We are having fun. We are still having fun. Our focus is actually on the Champions League next year. We want to improve on what we've done this year," said Mosimane.

"People said we went in the back door. Yes, the back door - but now in the final. How nice! It's sweet! We've been playing continuous football for the last 15 years. We are struggling a little bit."

But Mosimane warned his players not to underestimate Egyptian club Zamalek when they meet them in next month's final after beating them twice in the group phase of this year's competition.

"It would be the biggest mistake [to underestimate Zamalek] we could ever do because Zamalek is more complex than Zesco," he insisted.

"Zesco played long balls, that's all. There is no combination play in the midfield but when you play Zamalek you are up against Hefny, Hosni, Shikabalala.

"They are unbelievably good. So it will be totally different. We need to just now forget the tactics we have used against Zesco and look to bring back how we played against Zamalek.

"But let's be honest, Zamalek will not be happy to play us either."

They now meet the Egyptians again in the final, hosting the first leg at Atteridgeville on 15 October with the return match in Cairo one week later.

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