Wydad "renewed" in a tough test against Sundowns semi-final "African Champions"
Morocco's Wydad hope the positive shock of the appointment of Belgian coach Sven Vandenbrouckeauek as technical director will bear fruit in place of Spaniard Juan Carlos Garrido, when they face South Africa's Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday at the Mohammed V Stadium in Casablanca in the first leg of the CAF Champions League semi-finals.
The Belgian is the fourth coach of the team "Wydad Umma" this season, after Hussein Amouta, Tunisian Mehdi oil and Garrido terminated his contract immediately after a disappointing draw with his guest FAR 1-1 in the classic summit of the Moroccan league, preceded by reaching the semi-finals at the expense of Tanzania's Simba on penalties.
Vandenbroek, 43, has experience in African competitions, particularly Morocco, having previously coached Cameroon and Zambia, and then coached Tanzania's Simba and the Royal Army.
The coach indicated that he is optimistic before facing Sundowns, "Wydad includes a very special mixture of experienced and young players, but despite that I cannot now determine who I need from them." He continued: "My task is to develop a strategy that suits the capabilities of the team now, and I will not resort to defense only because it will harm me a lot, as well as I will not over-attack."
Midfielder Ismail Al-Matarji joined the list of injured in the red team, which is led by international goalkeeper Ahmed Reda Teknouti, but the team includes a squad that retains great elements with the presence of experienced players such as internationals full-back Yahya Attiyatallah and midfielder Yahya Jubran.
Sundowns are strong candidates for the coronation thanks to the stability of the level led by coach Rolani Mokoina, who relies on a very strong attack by scoring 35 goals in the current edition (all rounds), including a quintet against Egypt's Al-Ahly in the group stage, and a quadruple against Algeria's Belouizdad in the first leg of the quarter-finals. "I have great respect for Wydad," Mokwina said, adding: "Wydad are defending better than in the last period, specifically since signing Vandenbroucke. I've studied all the strengths and weaknesses of the team, we know what we want from the game, but it's not going to be an easy game at all".
"Wydad have very great players among its ranks, who attack fiercely, especially on the wings, and are also good at counter-attacks in a distinctive way." Mamelodi's squad includes Moroccan defender Abdelmonem Boutawil, attacking trio Peter Chaloulili, Cassius Mailula, Themba Zwane and midfielder Thapelo Morena.