As Mamelodi Sundowns continue their chase of a second CAF Champions League title, their push is led and inspired by a South Africa American contingent that has won the fans over.
As Sundowns, who are ironically nicknamed the Brazilians, gear up to face Egyptian giants Al Ahly in the second leg of the quarter-final clash on saturday, Gaston Sirino remains the biggest threat, with striker Ali Meza and Mauricio Affonso the other South American threats to look out for.
The return of Ricardo Nascimento at the heart of the Sundowns defence means the quartet are available for coach Pitso Mosimane, for the crucial return clash after a 2-0 loss from the first leg in Cairo last weekend.
Sirino, the Uruguayan midfield maestro, has been stunning this season, scoring 12 goals and making a further 9 assists as he has now been directly involved in Sundowns’ 22 goals in all competitions.
Sirino’s compatriot Affonso and Brazil-born Nascimento also have goals in this CAF Champions League season, something that has Mosimane beaming about his South American quartet.
It is only Venezuelan Meza who is without a goal this season. Meza’s absence has been due to an injury, but his return to form means makes him a contender for Saturday’s game.
As the four players continue to show their class, coach Mosimane has reiterated that what he gets from the players cannot be found around.
“This is the reason we have them. There was a reason all of them came here. I am actually happier that Nascimento is back from injury, especially with the problems we have a at the back,” Mosimane said.
“But Gaston has been great this season. He makes a lot of our goals and he’s also scoring. The Egyptians saw him when we beat them here last season. I don’t think they will give him space again,” the Sundowns coach said.
The 2016 African champions, who are the current PSL champions in South Africa, have enjoyed a brilliant group stage campaign on the continent this season, going unbeaten at the group stage. The defeat to Ahly in the first leg is their maiden loss this term.
Source: Confédération Africaine de Football (CAF)