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Morena Unfazed by Esperance Crowd, Eyes Positive Outcome

  • April 18, 2024
  • 2 min read
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Morena Unfazed by Esperance Crowd, Eyes Positive Outcome

Mamelodi Sundowns attacker Thapelo Morena assures his team won’t be intimidated by the passionate crowd at Stade Olympique Hammadi Agrebi in Rades when they face ES Esperance in the CAF Champions League semi-final first leg on Saturday (21:00).

Morena, Denis Onyango, and captain Themba Zwane are the only current Sundowns players who faced Esperance before. They drew 0-0 in the 2017 group stage under coach Pitso Mosimane.

However, this time, Sundowns seek a better result with the return leg at home in Pretoria next week, aiming for another Champions League final appearance.

“It’s one of the best crowds I’ve ever played in front of,” Morena recalled in an interview with Sundowns media. “This isn’t my first time in Tunisia or against Esperance.”

“I think this time will be better than the last,” he continued. “Of course, there will be a great atmosphere. We need to be aware of the fireworks around the field.”

Both sides were drawn in the same group in 2017. ES Esperance finished top, while Sundowns were runners-up. Both teams exited in the quarter-finals, with Sundowns losing to Wydad Casablanca and Esperance falling to Al Ahly, with the former winning the title by dethroning Sundowns.

Morena isn’t fazed by hostile crowds, having faced North African teams like Al Ahly and Wydad Casablanca before.

“Our mentality changes when playing Champions League,” he said. “We know what to expect from away fans and their passion when supporting their teams at home. Against Ahly, Wydad, and Esperance, it’s about starting strong. Yes, the atmosphere will be electric, but for Sundowns, we just want to play our usual football and give our best.”

Interestingly, both teams’ top scorers are Brazilians: Lucas Ribeiro Costa with three goals and Yan Sasse with two.

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