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Mamelodi Sundowns’ Mngqithi provides update on Saavedra, Maboe availability for Al Ahly clash

16:59 GMT 10/03/2022
Erwin Saavedra, Mamelodi Sundowns, February 2022
Masandawana are preparing to host the Cairo giants in Johannesburg and there are some injury concerns in their camp

Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi issued the latest news on two players who are racing against time to be fit for Saturday’s Caf Champions League Group A clash against Al Ahly at FNB Stadium.

The Sundowns tactician says Erwin Saavedra has started playing and his availability for the Al Ahly clash is subject to his response to the recovery programme in the next two days.

The Bolivia international was injured in the 0-0 draw against Al Merreikh on February 19 and has since missed four games.

His attacking partner Lebohang Maboe is also back from a long term injury and had been ruled out for the rest of the season but managed to recover earlier.

“On Saavedra, I can not confirm now but he’s back in training. We are hopeful he will make it but it still depends on how he does in the next two days,” Mngqithi told the media.

“As for Lebo he’s on that stage where he can play if given a chance but we are still a little bit cautious because he’s two months ahead of time in terms of what we expected of him.

“There’s still a feeling of not wanting to push him too much but there’s also a feeling that the boy looks like he’s ready to give us something so we will have to decide that as coaches.

“But at this stage, I cannot confirm whether he will be in the team or not but he’s looking very good I must say.”

Maboe featured in Tuesday’s Nedbank Cup 6-0 win over Mathaithai as a second-half substitute.

Sundowns now shift attention to the Champions League as they prepare to host Al Ahly who they beat 1-0 in Cairo nearly two weeks ago.

Mngqithi is taking Saturday’s match as one that can potentially define their season.

“We are heading into a very tough encounter. It's a game that has so much insight and a game that can determine our season,” said Mngqithi.

“It is also a game of consequence as both Al Ahly and ourselves are looking for a result that can maybe get us into the quarter-finals. Or stamp their position in the group stages, also considering that they lost the recent match against us at their home ground.

“Obviously, they will now come with vengeance hoping to try and upset us. But it's a match that I think is enjoyable for the spectators.

"Because I believe when two big clubs face each other with a mentality to try and win the match and not just play for a draw or consolidate their place in gaining a point by not conceding, it becomes a very interesting match for the spectators.

“So I believe that's one thing that will make the match very special for the spectators because both teams will be looking for a result. Whichever way the result goes, it will have a positive spinoff in the public eye.”

Al Ahly had arrived in Johannesburg on Wednesday.