Ninety minutes at the Borg El Arab Stadium in Alexandria, Egypt, is all that stands between Mamelodi Sundowns and adding the much-prized CAF Champions League star to their club emblem.
Sundowns take a 3-0 first leg lead into Sunday night’s (20H30 kick off) game after a convincing performance at a packed Lucas Moripe Stadium last Saturday.
Anthony Laffor and Tebogo Langerman netted in the first half, the third an own goal just after half time as the Brazilians looked mentally and physically sharper than their opponents.
Should Sundowns secure victory, they will become the second South African club after Orlando Pirates in 1995 to win the Champions League. The Pretoria side reached the final in 2001, but lost to Al Ahly, while Zamalek are five time winners of the continent’s most coveted club prize.
Sundowns president Patrice Motsepe and head coach Pitso Mosimane have both made no secret of their desire to conquer Africa and now after a lengthy nine month campaign that has taken in Zimbabwe, the Congo, the DR Congo, Egypt, Nigeria, Zambia and Algeria, Masandawana are nearly there.
They will however have to be wary of what will be a fired up home side in front of a partisan home crowd – it’s still likely to take some heroic performances from South Africa’s league champions to ensure the trophy comes back to Chloorkop.
Sundowns will be without defender Wayne Arendse, who is suspended, as well as long-term absentee Leonardo Castro but otherwise have a full strength squad.
Here’s what’s been said in the buildup this week:
Khama Billiat on the hostile crowd expected in Egypt:
“We are not looking at their supporters or things we can’t control. We are going there to play and enjoy the final. We have to first do the job, then we can think of the FIFA Club World Cup.”
Zamalek coach Moeman Soliman:
“The game is not finished. Obviously we need a miracle to win the cup. We have to prepare ourselves. We beat Wydad (4-0) and we went to Morocco and we lost 5-2 there. It can be possible. We need to work hard and do a plan.”
Tiyani Mabunda: “We have several players with a lot of experience, Hlompho (Kekana), Denis (Onyango) etc. They are keeping us all grounded.”
“We will go their looking for a few goals. It’s possible, we have done it before. This is the biggest game of my career. It’s a biggest game for almost all the players and maybe only Kennedy Mweene has played a bigger game then this and won when he won the 2012 AFCON.
“It’s a big challenge for us as a team but it’s a challenge we are ready to face and overcome. We know it won’t be easy, but after the win at home we can wrap it up in Egypt, though we won’t take this encounter lying down or relaxed.”
Masandawana and the Egyptian giants are facing off to be crowned African club champions for 2015/2016.
Sundowns have beaten Zamalek three times already in this year’s tournament.
The Brazilians are bidding to join Orlando Pirates, which is the only South African team won the Championship League title in 1995.