February 18, 2017

CAF Super Cup: Mazembe test Sundowns’ resolve

CAF Super Cup: Mazembe test Sundowns’ resolve

The CAF Super Cup has over the years been dominated by Champions League winners but current holders Mamelodi Sundowns will have to tread carefully against TP Mazembe at Loftus Stadium tonight.

The once-off final is contested between the winners of the premier continental club competition and the Confederation Cup champions.

Sundowns beat Egypt’s Zamalek 3-1 on aggregate to win the 2016 Champions League in October, while Mazembe saw off Algerian side MO Béjaïa 5-2 on aggregate in the same month to set the date with the SA champions.

The Brazilians will host the match as the winners of the main tournament – the Champions League – as per the rules, but based on their history, Mazembe will be no pushovers.

Mazembe are five-time winners of the Champions League with their last coming in 2015.

This is the first time they have won the Confederation Cup after finishing as runners-up in 2013.

Sundowns’ CAF title was the first in their history after settling for a runners-up spot against Egyptian side Al Ahly in 2001.

In head-to-head statistics, the two sides have met on four occasions and they have two wins apiece.

They first met in 2007 in the group stage of the Confederation Cup with Sundowns prevailing 3-2 in their first clash played at Loftus.

On that occasion, Sundowns were 2-0 down at halftime and fought back to win 3-2 when Surprise Moriri scored in the 90th minute.

The second match was the return leg in their battle to get out of the group and Mazembe won 3-1 on their home turf.

As a result, Mazembe finished second behind CS Sfaxien, which meant Sundowns, in third place, were knocked out.

Mazembe got the better of Sundowns again when they clashed in the first round of the Champions League two years ago. Sundowns won 1-0 at home courtesy of a Khama Billiat goal with four minutes remaining, but lost the return leg 3-1 and Pitso Mosimane’s boys were sent packing. Mazembe have two Super Cup titles to their name.

Of the 24 Super Cup clashes, the Champions League holders have been on the winning side 21 times, including Orlando Pirates in 1995.

Today’s match will be the 25th edition and only three times before has the Champions League winner been upset. It happened in the first ever Super Cup in 1993 when Africa Sports of the Ivory Coast edged Wydad Casablanca of Morocco.

In 1998 Etoile Sahel of Tunisia upset Raja Casablanca on post match penalties in Casablanca and in 2012 Maghreb Fez got some revenge for Morocco when they took Esperance to penalties in Tunis and then won the shootout.

Eight previous Super Cups have been decided on penalties but the match no longer goes to extra time. It is straight to penalties if deadlocked after 90 minutes.

There is a US$100 000 prize (about R1‚3-million) for the winner and $75 000 for the runner-up (about R980 000).