The experience and maturity of Wydad Casablanca (WAC) players was behind their qualification for the African Champions League final, after the match against South African club Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday at the Loftus Versfeld stadium of Pretoria, indicated the coach of the Reds, Sven Vandenbroeck.
“The players were extraordinary with their warrior mentality,” Vandenbroeck said during the press conference held after the game which ended in a draw (2-2), noting that qualification for the final is well deserved.
The two teams could not decide between themselves (0-0), last Saturday at the Mohammed V Complex in Casablanca, in the first leg semi-final.
“The players were mentally ready by showing themselves united behind the coach and the group,” added the coach who was appointed just a few days before this decisive semi-final to replace the Spaniard Juan Carlos Garrido.
He explained that with five straight years of Champions League semi-finals and continental and local trophies, Wydad players have matured and become used to playing under pressure.
Returning to the performance of the opposing team, Vandenbroeck pointed out that Mamelodi Sandowns’ players are technically and tactically very strong and have great chances to win trophies in the future.
For his part, “Masandawana” coach, Rhulani Mokwena, reported that his proteges put in their efforts and showed great commitment throughout the match, but Wydad’s experience made the difference.
Recalling that Mamelodi Sundowns have not been able to qualify for the semi-finals for the past three years, he said he was confident that his team would come back to this competition even stronger next season.
In the final, the WAC will cross swords against the Egyptians of Al Ahly who qualified by beating Esperance Sportif de Tunis with a wide score of 3 goals to 0.
The Reds climbed to the last four of the African Champions League, beating the Tanzanian club Simba by 4 shots on goal to 3 in the quarter-final second leg (regulation time 1-0, first leg: 1-0), while South Africans Mamelodi Sundowns qualified at the expense of Algerians CR Belouizdad.
Holders of the African Champions League title, WAC is the only surviving Moroccan club in African competitions, after the elimination of Raja (Champions League) and AS FAR (CAF Cup).