Marcelo Allende on Champions League sojourn – food, football and travel

Marcelo Allende on Champions League sojourn – food, football and travel

Marcelo Allende, a midfielder Mamelodi Sundowns reportedly spent R50-million to lure to Chloorkop, never thought in his wildest dreams he’d be playing football in Cameroon, Sudan, and maybe even Cairo.

That’s what the Caf Champions League has offered, and the nimble footed Chile international says he’s been impressed with the level. 

Sundowns wrap up their group stages campaign tomorrow night at Loftus Stadium against Coton Sport having already qualified for the quarterfinals, which means more crisscrossing around the continent for Allende and his teammates. 

“To be honest, the level surprised me. It’s very high to tell you the truth and I didn’t expect this level of competition in Caf,” the player told journalists through a translator during the pre-match conference ahead of hosting Coton Sport. 

“I have now traveled to places I never thought I would travel to – I’ve had different food, got exposed to different climates and had to adapt. We’ve also played on different types of pitches that are not what we are used to. So those are the challenges we have to face, and of course there are external factors that contribute to the game at large.” 

A win for Sundowns against the Cameroonians will guarantee they conclude the group stage as leaders, with either Egyptian giants Al Ahly or their Sundanese rivals Al Hilal set to join them following the final round of fixtures this weekend. 

Coton Sport were the whipping boys of the group and have long been eliminated.  

“We all know the group we had, which was tough and included a tough opponent like Al Ahly [record title holders]. We had to [try] win all the games we played, so it was tough,” said Allende. 

The 23-year-old briefly touched on his experience with English Premier League giants Arsenal when he was a teenager. 

But his heart is at Chloorkop now. 

“The Arsenal stint was a great opportunity for me, something I will cherish forever in my life – it was the highest level of football one could be exposed to. But I came to Sundowns because of the project here at the club and the winning mentality. Every footballer wants to be in a space where you work hard and you do it to win,” he explained.