Gamondi eyes victory after Yanga's draw with Mamelodi Sundowns

By Seth Mapoli , The Guardian
Published at 04:23 PM Apr 02 2024
Yanga’s head coach Miguel Gamondi
Photo: Yanga Sc
Yanga’s head coach Miguel Gamondi

YANGA and Mamelodi Sundowns engaged in a tightly contested 0-0 draw in the first leg of this season’s TotalEnergies CAF Champions League quarterfinal which took place in Dar es Salaam on Saturday evening.

The Benjamin Mkapa Stadium, filled with 60,000 enthusiastic football fans, witnessed a clash between last season’s TotalEnergies CAF Confederation Cup finalists, Yanga, and the inaugural African Football League (AFL) champions Mamelodi.

Yanga’s head coach Miguel Gamondi stated in a post-match interview: “I am very proud of my players. We played very well against one of the best clubs in Africa, Mamelodi Sundowns, and the fans should be very proud of their team today.”

He continued: “Today’s game was a tactical battle, if you look at today, we played very well tactically. However, Mamelodi Sundowns is a good team and can play in every situation.”

“The team performed very well. You don’t have to focus solely on the results because tactically, we performed very well. Although we missed a lot of chances and important players like Khalid Aucho, Kouassi Yao, and Pacome Zouzoua were absent, the players who got a chance, like Jonas Mkude, performed very well,” the Argentine revealed.

“This is a significant development not only for the club but also for Tanzania,” Gamondi added.

“This game has been widely discussed in Africa, which is positive. I’m also pleased with the large number of fans who came to the stadium to witness this game.”

Looking ahead to the upcoming game in South Africa, Gamondi remarked: “I told my players that these CAF Champions League quarter-final games are not just 90 minutes but 180 minutes.”

“We managed to secure a draw here at home. Now, we’ll return to the training ground to analyze our performance and address our shortcomings.”

“The crucial thing is that we’re not trailing at home because if you’re trailing at home, you face a significant challenge away. So, we’ll go and fight away,” the Argentine pointed out.

Despite the absence of goals, the match provided ample entertainment, characterized by strategic play from both teams and exceptional defensive and goalkeeping displays.

Sundowns, known for their possession-based approach, dominated much of the ball, seeking to wear down their hosts. However, Yanga stood firm, responding with swift counter-attacks.

In the 27th minute, Yanga had a chance to break the deadlock when striker Clement Mzize found himself with a scoring opportunity, but his shot was easily collected by the in-form Mamelodi Sundowns goalie, Ronwen Williams.

Just before halftime, Sundowns' midfielder Teboho Mokoena attempted a trademark long-range shot that nearly caught Yanga's goalie Djigui Diarra off guard.

After the break, Yanga turned out to be a team with better chances despite Sundowns maintaining possession. Mzize threatened again in the 57th minute with a header narrowly missing the target.

Yanga’s clearest opportunity came in the 68th minute when forward Kennedy Musonda faced Williams one-on-one, but the Sundowns goalkeeper made a crucial save to deny the hosts.

Both teams approached the game tactically throughout the match, attacking cautiously and defending with discipline, resulting in a goalless draw.

The two sides will lock horns at Pretoria’s Loftus Versfeld Stadium in the rematch this weekend, with the winners slated to be determined in what promises to be another captivating encounter.