Hlompho Kekana of Mamelodi Sundowns during the Absa Premiership match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs at the Loftus Stadium in Pretoria on the 19 November 2016©Samuel Shivambu/Backpagepix
Tuesday Jun 20, 2017. 18:00
Mamelodi Sundowns are “the team to beat” in Africa according to midfielder Hlompho Kekana, who is looking forward to their midweek CAF Champions League fixture.
The title holders will face Esperance de Tunis in a key Group C match as they look to bring themselves back into contention for a place in the quarterfinals.
The Brazilians were beaten by the ‘Blood and Gold’ on home soil in Tshwane when the teams met earlier this month, but Kekana believes they can turn the tables on the North Africans.
“We are no longer underdogs, but rather the team to beat. It is normal for defending champions to be put under pressure. What remains for us is to remain humble in our approach, and to make sure we win our games,” Kekana told Sundowns’ official website.
“We prepared well, and it is clear all the players want to win. It is very important for us to win so that we are in a good space. We will go to the stadium to play our own game, and hopefully, win.”
The Bafana Bafana midfielder continued, “We now know the logistics of playing in the [CAF Champions League] – the long traveling hours, the long hours at airports.
“We are just happy as players. We are learning life lessons which you do not find in textbooks. The experiences are making us better players, better people and better individuals.
“We are getting stronger mentally, and we will never give up. We are testing ourselves, our character and how we handle ourselves.
“We know the difference between our domestic league and the CL, and have adapted.”
He added: “We need the points, perhaps more than they do, and if we play our normal game, I see us winning.”
The teams will meet at the Olympic Stadium in Rades on Wednesday night, kick-off at 23h00 CAT.