Sundowns make the trip to the DR Congo capital city this weekend for a CAF Champions League second round, first leg tie and will find AS Vita standing in waiting at the Stade Tata-Raphael – venue of the historic 1974 Rumble in the Jungle heavyweight boxing fight between champion George Foreman and challenger Muhammad Ali.
Babale – who spent two years playing for Vita before moving to the PSL in 1998 – is forthright to KickOff.com in cautioning The Brazilians.
“For all the respect that I have for Sundowns I don’t see them coming out with a positive result in Kinshasa against Vita,” says Babale before issuing a stern notice.
“It is going to be hell,” warns the former Orlando Pirates and Free State Stars goalkeeper.
“The conditions will be made to be as unsuitable as possible for Sundowns by the hosts who will want to use that as a way of playing around with the visitors’ mind-set. The best thing to do for Sundowns is to expect the worst treatment and then find comfort in whatever luxury comes their way from the moment they land at the airport instead of spending all their time complaining. It is a fact that they will be treated rough with the pain being that they will be in a French speaking country,” says Babale.
The crowd will also play a huge factor at the 50 000-seater multi-purpose stadium.
“A true sense of playing in front of a hostile country will be felt. Remembe, in the popularity ranks Vita ranks and competes with Motema Pembe so they will pack up the stadium with ease because they attach value to continental club football,” he says.
Even on the field Babale insists he knows too well that Les Dauphins Noirs will match The Brazilians especially with the guidance of Florent Ibenge – who doubles up as the national team coach.
“Vita have a coach who has experience and who has put in a good team together and instilled the typical Congolese attitude of having a strong mentality of surviving under any conditions. Vita are not sissies and while they have respect for the glamour found in the PSL they will give Sundowns one hell of a difficult match. This is a club that normally feeds the national team with a lot of players so that should give you an idea. Truth be told Sundowns must forget about winning in Kinshasa, for them a draw will be a huge achievement in Congo, trust me on this,” says Babale.
Vita are 13-time Congolese champions and were kings of Africa when the continent’s premier club competition was known as the African Champions Cup in 1973.
Besides Free State Stars and Pirates Babale also played for Black Leopards, Wits University, FC AK, Mpumalanga Black Aces, Maritzburg United, and was back playing competitive football at Highlands Park in the First Division last season.