History beckons for Mamelodi Sundowns as they aim to be the second club from Southern Africa after Orlando Pirates to have their names engraved on the continent’s most sought after club football trophy, when they take on Egyptian giants, Zamalek in the first leg of the final.
While the club has been hard at training, the excitement has been building up in and around the Tshwane townships where the club’s fan base resides. Prominent Mamelodi Sundowns supporters have made an increased effort of showing their support by placing their treasured club’s flag across the roofs of their homes since the beginning of this week. Commuter taxis have also joined in the support with the club flag and player posters being visible as the taxis drive around the township.
Come Saturday afternoon, the 28,900-capacity Lucas Moripe stadium will be transformed into a sea of yellow after the club announced that fans who come in Mamelodi Sundowns regalia would get into the stadium at half prize while children sporting the club colours would get free entry. The news been well received by the Sundowns faithful, who will be in full voice to rally behind their side.
Retail stores have also stocked up more Sundowns jerseys, as demand has shot up since the Pretoria outfit booked their place in the final. Jamaican world-record breaking athlete, Usain Bolt has also been seen showing his allegiance to the club after a picture of the star athlete holding a Mamelodi Sundowns jersey as a sign of support grabbed the attention of the world.
Mpumelelo Mbambo, who is one of Sundowns’ many female supporters will be travelling from KwaMashu township in Durban to rally behind the Brazilians and says even the coastal city is abuzz with excitement as fans look forward to seeing a South African side in a CAF Club final for the third time in three years.
“Tshwane isn’t the only city looking forward to the final. People from all walks of life, age and race are showing their support and donning the yellow and blue of the club in Durban. We know how tough it will be for our boys in Egypt so we need to make sure that we make it as uncomfortable as possible for Zamalek when they are in our backyard” said Mpumelelo who will be travelling more than 600km with the Sundowns supporters bus from Durban.
Club spokesperson, Thulani Thuswa said the team has put their disappointing MTN8 final defeat to Bidvest Wits (lost 3-0 on 1 October 2016) behind them and are fully focused on overcoming the Egyptian giants.
“We have mobilized all our branches across the country and we expecting nothing less than a full house. The objective is clear and simple; we need to create a strong and intimidating atmosphere for our opponents while at the same time rally behind our boys. It doesn’t get any bigger than the finals of the CAF Champions League and we refuse to stumble against an Egyptian side again,” referring to the 4-1 defeat they suffered against Al Ahly in the 2001 finals.
The second leg takes place on Sunday, 23 October 2016 in the Egyptian city of Alexandria. At stake for the winner is US$1.5 million prize-money for the winner and the ticket to represent Africa at the FIFA Club World Cup in December in Japan.