No place for 'cowards' in Sundowns team, says coach Mosimane

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane says there is no place for "cowards" in his team as they prepare for a must-win CAF Champions League matchday 3 clash Friday.

The South African outfit, who won the elite African club competition in 2016, host ASEC Mimosas from the Ivory Coast with both sides having three points from two matches.

Sundowns edged 2017 champions Wydad Casablanca from Morocco 2-1 in the previous matchday after a fiery Pretoria duel that ended with Mosimane hailing the fighting spirit of his side.

"The days when my players were cheese boys (physically and mentally soft) are over. Now we fight fire with fire. There is no room for cowards," he stressed.

"If you lack a never-say-die mentality, forget about wearing the colours of Sundowns. Our aim is to play entertaining football, but we (are) also ready to fight.

"ASEC are a technical and physical team whom we respect, but we have no option but to win at home. I believe we can take four points from our two matches against them."

The fighting talk from Mosimane comes against a backdrop of criticism that South African clubs have underachieved in Africa because they are too gentle physically and mentally.

AFP Sport previews the seven matchday 3 fixtures this Friday and Saturday as the chase hots up for top-two finishes and quarter-finals places.

Group A

Lobi Stars of Nigeria, Wydad, Sundowns and ASEC all have three matches after winning at home and losing away in what is shaping up as the toughest group to reach the last eight from.

Sundowns should be too strong for ASEC in Pretoria although potential tiredness from playing a third match within seven days poses a challenge for the South Africans.

If Lobi are to realise their dream of becoming only the second Nigerian winners of the Champions League then maximum points at home to Wydad is essential.

Group B

Esperance of Tunisia face their toughest test since winning the competition a third time last season when they face Orlando Pirates of South Africa in Soweto.

Pirates impressed when trouncing visiting Horoya of Guinea 3-0 in matchday 2 with Zambian Justin Shonga bagging a late brace.

Esperance have been solid in defence of the title, snatching a late draw away to Horoya before comfortably overcoming FC Platinum of Zimbabwe in Tunis.

Group C

CS Constantine of Algeria are looking good for a last-eight place, leaving TP Mazembe and Club Africain to fight for the other slot.

Mazembe have home advantage over Africain this weekend and it would be surprising if the five-time CAF champions did not collect three points in Lubumbashi.

Constantine, who have six points compared to none for their two rivals, are idle because Ismaily of Egypt were disqualified over crowd violence.

Group D

This section is already following a predictable path with record eight-time champions Al Ahly and former trophy-holders V Club of DR Congo occupying the top two places.

Ahly host defensively-fragile Tanzanians Simba SC and V Club have home advantage over bottom-of-the-table JS Saoura of Algeria and both should secure maximum points.

A concern for Ahly, though, is the absence of nine injured players, including attacker Ramadan Sobhi, who is on loan from English Premier League strugglers Huddersfield Town.

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