Onyango ahead of Yanga clash: ‘Football is not played on paper’

Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper Denis Onyango says despite going into the game against Young Africans as favourites, they will not be complacent, as football is won the pitch and not on who has the best players on paper.

Sundowns will be crossing swords against Tanzanian giants Yanga in the Caf Champions League quarterfinal first leg encounter at the Benjamin Mkapa National Stadium, in Dar es Salaam on Saturday night.

Kick-off time is at 8pm.

Star-studded side

It goes without saying that Sundowns have grown to become the most feared and respected team on the African continent. They are not short of quality in all departments and are a star-studded side.

Sundowns consist of big player names like midfield maestro Themba Zwane and Teboho Mokoena. Also Namibian goal poacher Peter Shalulile and in-form new signing Thembinkosi Lorch.

They also have an exciting South American contingent in Gaston Sirino, Marcelo Allende, Lucas Ribeiro, Junior Mendieta and Matías Esquivel.

Underdogs tag does not work in football

Speaking to the media during a press conference in Dar es Salaam, Onyango said the continental competition taught them that the underdogs tag does not work in football. Respecting the opponent is always key, he said. He was referring to the recent Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon). 

“Football is not played on paper, we have seen it many times, especially in the Afcon. The so-called smaller teams made things very difficult for the bigger teams,” Onyango said.

“We saw Ivory Coast lose 4-0 to an underdog [Equatorial Guinea]. So for us every game is big, there is no underdog. It’s always 11 against 11 on the pitch and it’s every man for himself.

“We never focus on individual players but usually look at the entire team. So, this game will not be about the underdog tag. We are all playing at the same level, and for us is to just do our job and try getting over the line.”

Sundowns goes up against a Yanga side that proved to be a difficult team to play at home in the group stages. It won two and played a draw in one match against Al Ahly.

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