The fans in Congo-Brazzaville mistook them for Orlando Pirates, calling their name in a French accent, because the Sea Robbers were the only South African club to have visited them - in 2013 and last year.
But by the time the Brazilians left, after having spent two extra days in Congo because flights had been grounded during the elections, locals not only knew who the Sundowns were but how to pronounce their name as the Chloorkop-based side qualified for the second round at the expense of AC Leopards.
“They didn’t call us any other team,” Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane said.
“What does that mean? You want to be known, get to play in the Champions League regularly. We have won six league titles in the PSL, nobody has done that. The star (for winning the Champions League) is also important. Let’s bring it.
“It’s not going to be easy, but for you to bring the star, you have to be in the Champions League every year. That means every season you have to be No.1 in the league, worst-case scenario you finish second.
“In the three seasons I have been at the club, we were No.1 and then two, this season we are No.1. We are on the right track. When they called Pira-tes, we said, No! Mamelodi”.
“Go to Zimbabwe, they know us now. Go back to Dolisie, they will say, Pirates and then Mamelodi.”
The trip to Dolisie did more than spread the club’s brand, it gave them a preview of what to expect on the continent if they were to go far.
After arriving in Pointe Noire, the Brazilians took a six-hour bus ride to Dolisie, where they didn’t have any nutritious food and had to fuel up on junk.
As if that wasn’t enough, they played on a cabbage patch of a pitch and, as they were preparing to go home, they were told their flight on Sunday was grounded. They could leave the country only on Tuesday.
“I see a different Mamelodi Sundowns this year,” Mosimane said. “We have this amazing character, we take everything in our stride and not let it derail us.
“Talent alone in this competition is not enough. You need to be mentally sharp.”
Sundowns’ sharp mentality will be put to the test tomorrow when they take on AS Vita in Kinshasa (4.30pm SA time) in the first leg of their second-round tie.
The Brazilians trained on an artificial pitch on Thursday at the Nike Centre in Soweto in preparing for what they expected to get in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They left for Kinshasa yesterday.
Mosimane is 180 minutes from guiding the club to the group stage for the first time since 2001.
“I have been in the group stages before (in 2004 with SuperSport United), for me it is about making it to the last four,” Mosimane said.
“For Mamelodi Sundowns, it’s important to go to the group stage.
“It’s important not only for us, but for the country, so we maintain the four teams in both competitions.
“But it shouldn’t just be about maintaining those spots. We should take it seriously. We should show we want to win.
“I am not saying all the teams’ priorities must be the same, but sometimes people say my priorities are this and that, but you haven’t won anything for the past four years.
“Really, what’s your priorities?
“What are we talking about?” - Saturday Star
Original source: Sundowns must make an impression - Mosimane