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HomeAfrican FootballIbenge Reserves High Praise For Sundowns Ahead of CAFCL Opener

Ibenge Reserves High Praise For Sundowns Ahead of CAFCL Opener

Al Hilal head coach Florent Ibenge admits he’s not seen anything like the current Mamelodi Sundowns tactical system in African football yet.

Sundowns open their group stage campaign against Hilal at Loftus Versveld on Saturday afternoon up against one of the most highly respected tacticians on the continent.

He famously knocked out Pitso Mosimane’s Sundowns squad back in the 2016 edition of the CAF Champions League with AS Vita before an administrative blunder saw them kicked out, as Masandawana were reinstated – and went all the way to win their maiden title.

“We [knocked them out] the last time – but this is different, with a different team as well and we’re in a tough group with Al Ahly and Sundowns being the favourites of course, we are the underdogs but we’ll try to advance and not finish in fourth like last time,” Ibenge said in the pre-match press conference.

“But obviously there’s a favourite for the tournament, there’s Raja, Wydad, Sundowns, and Al Ahly. This Sundowns, congratulations to the coach, coaches in Africa are showing they can do well – but I’ll answer your question [about their squad] after the game. Because what he did, what the coach is doing, I’ve not seen it anywhere else in Africa.”

Having won the CAF Confederation Cup last season with RS Berkane, he was lured to the Sudanese giants for an ambitious three-year project. But with Sundowns and Al Ahly grouped alongside them he denies coming third would see him sacked by the club.

“I’m focused on my work, I’m a coach and I know anything can happen but I’ll do my best to get out of this group,” the Congolese mentor explained.

“I’ll let Al Hilal kind of decide what they will do – I will focus on my job, there’s nothing written on this contract that I need to get out of this group.”

Sundowns welcome the Sudanese giants to Loftus on Saturday afternoon (15h00).

Lorenz Kohler
Lorenz Kohler
Lorenz Köhler is an award-winning South African football journalist. Having cut his teeth in the industry working at Kick-Off Magazine, he is now iDiski Times' senior digital content writer. He specialises in breaking top African football stories and transfers with a major focus on the 'big-three' Mamelodi Sundowns, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates and CAF inter-club and international competitions. In 2021 he was listed amongst the top-five journalists under 30 in Print Media for the AIPS Awards.