JAPAN SEND AGENTS TO SPY ON SUNDOWNSThomas Kwenaite
Mamelodi Sundowns is still far from learning who will be their adversaries at the FIFA World Club Championship that gets underway in Japan from December 8, but the Japanese have already sent an advance scouting party to spy on the African champions.
Two Japanese agents arrived in South Africa a fortnight ago on a reconnaissance mission, collecting data about Sundowns, asking questions and viewing the club’s matches and compiling a report for their compatriots in Japan.
On November 23, two Japanese clubs go toe-to-tie in a playoff match for the right to face Urawa, currently leading the pack in the Japanese Premier League with 74 points, followed by Frontale with 72 points after 34 rounds with two matches left.
Frontale tackles Kashima Antlers on Tuesday and the winner will face Urawa in the first leg final on November 29, the second leg final is set for December 3 with the winner qualifying for the FIFA event.
It does not end there however as Sundowns will have to watch closely when the winner tackles New Zealand champions Auckland City and the winner from that clash will face the African champions in Yokohama in a quarter0final tie on December 11.
And Sundowns, appear to have recovered from the early slump after winning the continental title as they warmed up to the challenge that lie ahead with an emphatic come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Kaizer Chiefs in Pretoria on Saturday.
Sundowns were never in trouble and were totally in control from kickoff, even after Ramahlwe Mphahlele, their former fullback gave the visitors the lead with a cross/cum goal; it ended behind Denis Onyango’s goal much against the run of play.
Two minutes after the 41st minute setback, Sundowns were level when Keagan Dolly teed up Tebogo Langermann who came charging down the left and his blistering drive gave Itumeleng Khune no chance to level in the 43rd minute.
Sibusiso Vilakazi finally broke his duck in the league championship when Percy Tau hit the woodwork and “Vila” tapped in the rebound to give Sundowns the lead in the 59th minute.
Sundowns have upcoming matches against Golden Arrows and Highlands Park at home before wrapping up their November month assignments with an away fixture against struggling Ajax Cape Town on November 29.
They are keeping their fingers crossed that the PSL could be sympathetic to their cause and postpone the December 3 fixture against Free State Stars to enable them to fly out of the country to Japan to have adequate preparation time for their December 11 opening match of the FIFA World Club championship.