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Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa)
The story so far
After Sundowns beat Zamalek of Egypt to win African club football’s top prize thanks to a huge slice of luck, coach Pitso Mosimane joked “we were the Denmark of the Champions League”.
Sundowns had been eliminated in the qualifying round, but when the team they had lost to, DR Congo outfit AS Vita Club, were disqualified for fielding an ineligible player, Sundowns took full advantage of their reprieve.
The Pretoria side are arguably the richest club in Africa and for the last 13 years they have been owned by billionaire mining magnate Patrice Motsepe, who has ploughed millions into the club.
After a number of foreign coaching appointments proved unsuccessful, Motsepe turned to Mosimane, who was given a generous budget to buy the best talent in South Africa. Within a season he had delivered a first title in seven years and Sundowns have now won two of the last three South African championships.
Now, after their continental triumph, a meeting with Jeonbuk Motors awaits in Japan.
Zimbabwe international Khama Billiat was voted the top player in South Africa at the end of last season after helping Sundowns to the league title. He is deceptively quick and full of trickery, but can be wasteful in front of goal. Were it not for his slight frame, he would be
at a European club by now.
Sundowns play a simple 4-4-2, relying on skill, guile and pace to break down opponents. “I don’t like too much tactical innovation and I don’t like rotating either,” says coach Pitso Mosimane despite a big squad that reflects the dominance the Pretoria club have in the African transfer market because of the wealth of their owner.
The 51-year-old Pitso Mosimane played in the Greek top flight and won four caps for South Africa in 1993. He took over from Bruce Grobbelaar in 2003 at SuperSport United, served as Carlos Alberto Parreira’s assistant from 2007 for the 2010 World Cup and was then his successor as national coach. After being fired in 2013, he joined Sundowns and has taken them to two titles in the last three seasons.