Petro de Luanda head coach Alexandre Santos has explained why he wanted to face Mamelodi Sundowns and revealed how they compare to Wydad and Zamalek SC.
The Girabola league leaders stunned Sundowns in the last-eight after a 3-2 aggregate win which was completed with the 1-1 draw at FNB Stadium on Saturday evening.
And Santos suggested that Sundowns’ incredible level of performances made them dig even deeper than what they needed to in order to advance from Group D that included Wydad, Zamalek and their reigning league champions Sagrada Esperanca.
“The way of playing Sundowns is not the same as Zamalek or other because one team is one team, each team has their own philosophy of playing and different sets of players, I think Sundowns are similar to us,” Santos said.
“Sometimes we are similar but we play well from wide areas coming inside, while Sundowns play very inside the middle areas. It’s amazing how they can put the ball between lines.
“The teams that we played in North Africa, Wydad and Zamalek, they play with more width, more capacity to put the ball in wide areas, it’s the great difference for us.
“For us, it’s not harder or easier to play Sundowns – but until now, I think this is the one that pushed us to improve our team [performance] to get to another level, mainly in defence.
“The other teams we didn’t need to defend so well like against Sundowns, if we didn’t do great work in midfield who would have lost in Luanda and South Africa.”
The former FC Porto assistant coach went on to add that he always wanted to face Masandawana and stated that coming second in the group has no relevance to the quality of the opposition.
Petro, Al Ahly and ES Setif all qualified as runners-up for the quarter-final and secured spots in the last four, only Wydad were able to advance to the semi-finals after winning their group.
“When I saw the last eight teams before the draw, I spoke to Gilberto and said I would like to go to South Africa because I think Sundowns is a great team,” he continued
“I saw Sundowns before, they like to play from the goalkeeper, from the defence, which we like too. We know it would be a good fight and a good quarter-final but we were ready for anyone because all the teams are strong.
“Only Setif and Raja I think aren’t on the top of their [domestic] league; Sundowns, Wydad, Esperance, Al Ahly… and Al Ahly was a second place [in Sundowns group].
“I think second place and first place in this competition in Africa, the level is unbelievable, the level of the games here in Champions League – this is some of the best football in the world, the quarter-finals were great games, balance and tactical.
“Coming second or third [in the group stage] is no sign that things would be easier or harder for any team, it’s not a sign.”
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