When Horoya AC of Guinea takes on Egyptian newcomers Pyramids FC at the 2019-20 Total CAF Confederation Cup semifinal, eyes will be on Ocansey Mandela.
For the Burkinabe, this match against the Egyptians is an event not to be missed. Talking to CAFOnline.com, Mandela promised to "give everything" to reach the final of the competition.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CAF has opted for a Final Four to end the 2019-20 Total CAF Confederation Cup season. It is in this context that Horoya and Pyramids lock horns in a single match on 20 October 2020 at the Mohamed V Stadium in Casablanca.
Even though Horoya is deprived of some key players, after the departure of Aristide Bancé and the injuries of Baffour Sébé, Samassékou or even Alseny Camara "Cantona", the Guinean champions can count on the return of their talisman Ocansey Mandela. Absent for more than four months, Ocansey returned to the pitch last August after receiving treatment in France.
Known for his speed, Mandela is one of the player's Coach Lamine N’Diaye will count on to secure a ticket to the final against Pyramids. “I was out of the field for a long time. I'm happy with my return and above all, I'm happy to be here for this semi-final which is very important for us. This match against Pyramids is very important for me and Horoya AC. We'll go one hundred percent or even two hundred percent because this is a game in which we have to write our history. Now is the time for us to make history," Mandela said.
Having moved to CAF Confederation Cup after being eliminated from the Champions League, Horoya AC had one of their best runs in the group stage in CAF interclub competitions. In six games this season, HAC won four and drew twice. This allowed N’Diaye's side to finish at the top of their group with 14 points. For Mandela, now is not the time to stop.
“I think this match against Pyramids will be very difficult. Both teams had not reached the semi-finals of this competition before. We are all aiming for the same thing which is to get to the final and why not win the trophy. We will approach this match with all seriousness. The match will be played on the mental and physical aspects. We are ready because the coach has prepared us for it. We will give everything to get to the final,” promised the Burkinabé who is also Horoya’s captain.
Playing the semi-final in Morocco behind closed doors deprives Horoya of their 28 September Stadium faithful supporters.
The COVID-19 outbreak affected the audience present in the whole world, and Mandela, while regretting that, points out that this problem is not only for his side.
“It hurts not to play in front of our audience which is our twelfth man. They have been behind us since the start of this competition. But I believe this applies to both teams. We must focus on the match and we will give our all,” he added.
It is noteworthy that Horoya’s only success in the history of CAF interclub competitions dates back to 1978 when they won the African Cup Winners' Cup.
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