Defending PSL and CAF Champions League holders Mamelodi Sundowns begin their continental title defense against Ethiopian giants, Saint George Sports Club on Saturday. Joburg Posts profiles the club to bring you some of their past triumphs and the players to watch out for, as “The Horsemen” brace themselves for an acid test against an on form Masandawana at Lucas Masterpieces Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville.
History and Pedigree:
According to their club website, the club was formed sometime around 1928; “If questions like when, where and by who were raised then there are few supporting documents to establish some kind of accuracy. Documents of course are verifying facts. The club in general was founded at the Arada neighbourhood in December 1928 with the united effort of the area residents with such people like Mr. Ayale Atnaf and George dukes. Certainly when mentioning the founders, it always needed to have the famed Mr. Yidnekachew’s name along with others; he joined the club after two month of its existence.”
In a history spanning close to 90 years, St. George are comfortably one of the biggest, if not the absolute best club in Ethiopia. They have won the Ethiopian Premier League 28 times since 1950. The reigning Champions of the Ethiopian Premier League are no strangers to links with South Africa, as it is the club from which Orlando Pirates bought gangly striker Fikru Teferra in 2006. The Ethiopian behemoths also saw a player from Orlando Pirates in Yasser Mugerwa move to the club in September 2016. St. George are currently leading the log standings with a game in hand over their closest competitors in the north-east African country. With only a handful of matches to go, Kidus Giorgis look set to win their domestic league once again, with not more than a handful of matches to go until the end of their season.
While they celebrate their 50th year in Champions league participation, coach Martinus Nooij’s charges have never gone passed the first round. Mamelodi Sundowns would do well to avoid any complacency against a side that will surely be looking to make full use of their chances in the continental competition this time around.. The match on Saturday comes at a tricky time for Mamelodi Sundowns, who are in a tighter fight for top spot in the domestic league, than their Ethiopian counterpart.
Coach: Mart Nooij
The side are coached by Dutch tactician Mart Nooij, who is a familiar face in South African football circles having coached Santos in 2012. The coach is also the reigning coach of the season in Ethiopia.
A veteran striker with bags of experience from playing and captaining the Ethiopian national team. A player for Sundowns to watch out for.
The Ethiopian Striker has a lot of experience having played for Lierse in Belgium and Al Ahli in Egypt. He has scored over 80 goals in his career.
Last season, the towering goalie won his fifth consecutive best goalie accolade in Ethiopia since 2012.
Although Sundowns will have home ground advantage, they will know not to take ‘Kidus Giorgis’ for granted. It will count in Masandawana’s favour that they have a strict disciplinarian in Pitso Mosimane, who will ensure the team plays with the same amount of intensity as in the domestic league.