Mamelodi Sundown co-coach, Rhulani Mokwena believes his team has all the experience that can carry them all the way to win the CAF champions league this season.
The Brazilians will begin their campaign against La Passe FC from Seychelles in the second preliminary round first-leg match at Loftus stadium in Pretoria on Sunday.
Sundowns won their maiden champions league trophy in 2016 when Pitso Mosimane was still the coach but they have struggled since then.
They have reached the semi-final only once, the quarterfinals stage on four occasions, and finished in the group stages once. This season, they have beefed up the team with top local and international players, and the expectations to win it again will be high.
“It has always been the aim and the focus of the club and that’s why even personally, if we don’t win it it’s a failure because the club wants to win it and we want to win at that level. We are going again to try and win the trophy,” says Mokwena.
Sundowns will meet La Passe twice at home on Sunday and again next week because there’s no suitable stadium on the Indian Ocean island, where renovations are currently still to be completed.
La Passe have been hosting their international matches in nearby Mauritius. But playing the same team twice will be tricky.
“It’s always tricky to play the same team twice. You see it in the local league, but the only advantage is that there is less traveling for us. So, from that perspective you have a huge advantage. So, there is no physical and psychological fatigue,” Mokwena explains.
Sundowns were knocked out by the Angolan champions Petro de Luanda last season in the quarterfinals. But a lot of lessons have been learned from that defeat.
“One of the coaches spoke about saying that if you lose the match and the lesson then you are a loser. But if you lose (and) you gain with regard to lessons, then you have won,” says Mokwena.
La Passe are an unknown entity, having only qualified for the champions league preliminary round in 2010. But Sundowns players will take the match very seriously.
“I think it’s difficult because obviously we don’t know them but we just have to apply ourselves like we are playing a normal PSL game, we must take every match seriously as usual,” says Khuliso Mudau, Sundowns player.
The second leg will be played at the same venue on Friday the 14th of October.