ZIM, SA based Peter Ndlovu celebrated his 43rd birthday this week, plotting in the enemy’s camp as high-flying Mamelodi Sundowns brace for their CAF Champions League showdown against his hometown club, Chicken Inn, in Pretoria tonight.
The former Zimbabwe captain was born in the same month as Cristiano Ronaldo, ‘s focus today will be on the big match at the Lucas Moripe Stadium which has captured the imagination of football fans either side of the Limpopo and represents the ultimate showdown of a free-spirited underdog, taking on a member of the establishment on the biggest stage of Africa’s inter-club football battlegrounds.
Chicken Inn are only playing their second game in the CAF inter-club competitions while Sundowns, who reached the final of the 2001 CAF Champions League only to lose 1-4 to Egyptian giants Al-Ahly, have been in the trenches since 1994 when they made their debut in Africa’s premier inter-club tournament.
A club that was once owned by Standard Bank is now the part of the business portfolio of billionaire mining magnate, Patrice Motsepe, and Sundowns are rated as the most Valuable Football Club in a South African Premiership ranked as the seventh richest league in the world.
Sundowns were formed in 1970, the year Peter’s late brother Adam was born, beginning a journey that would eventually take him to Chicken Inn, where he was the head coach when he died in that car crash near the Victoria Falls International Airport in December 2012.
Peter was the only one in that car, that survived, bringing mixed emotions for Zimbabwe’s greatest Warrior.
Sundowns are unbeaten in South African league and cup competitions since September last year, in a run stretching more than 20 games, are yet to lose at home in league and cup games all season, and their only two losses against Golden Arrows and Mpumalanga Black Aces came on the road.
On Wednesday night they powered to a blistering start, scoring twice in the opening minutes, before settling for a 2-1 win over Mpumalanga Black Aces with Khama Billiat, who has been the heart and soul of their success story this season, turning on a man-of-the-match performance.
“We needed to get back to form,” Billiat told Kick-Off.
“We haven’t been doing well in the past two games and needed this (Aces result) to take us to the next game (against Chicken Inn). We all know that we are not out — we are still in it and will always give our best.
“We’re just gonna make sure we rectify the mistakes we made in Zimbabwe and make sure we don’t concede and focus on our own style, then hopefully we will succeed.”
“Chicken Inn are a good team, you find the Khama Billiats, the Cuthbert Malajilas, and the Evans Rusikes. We played a strong team,” the coach told the South African media.
Billiat has made 71 appearances for Sundowns in all competitions and scored 24 goals.
At about 10pm tonigte Billiat and his teammates would give King Peter a belated birthday present by overturning the first leg deficit, or spoil the Flying Elephant’s big week by falling at the hands of the bullish Gamecocks. –allAfrica.com