Sunday Oct 17, 2021. 10:00
Mamelodi Sundowns ambassador Tiyani Mabunda has called on the team to recapture the glory of 2016 and win this season’s CAF Champions League.
The South African heavyweights enter the 2021-22 edition of the CAFCL later today, facing AS Maniema Union in the DR Congo in the first leg of a second round qualifying tie.
‘Downs won their first continental crown in 2016 and, having fully established their dominance in South African domestic football, they are looking to become African champions for a second time.
Mabunda, who recently retired from playing to take up his ambassadorial role with the club, feels that his former teammates have what it takes to go a few steps further, having fallen at the semifinals and quarterfinals in the past three CAFCL seasons.
“You saw the team last season, they did so well and unfortunately we didn’t win it. But I know that the boys have now really gotten more experience and they go into this campaign with a different approach,” Mabunda is quoted by Times Live.
“The approach is no longer to think about ending in the group stages or the knockout stages but try to go all the way and win the cup. I am expecting the guys to live up to the high expectations that they have set for themselves.
“It is never easy to go away in the Champions League and win but in any tournament we play in we always try our best to get the best results. Over the years we have been growing in confidence in this competition and the current squad is really showing signs of excellence.”
Mabunda added, “What is good is that the system at Sundowns has allowed new players to come and be integrated and get used to the heavy schedule, travelling, the conditions that you play under and the responsibilities that you carry as a brand.
“You go all over the continent and people celebrate Sundowns which is really shocking but they have grown to admire the kind of football that we play and the effort that is put in and the results that come out.
“We want to create a platform for the new guys to express themselves to their maximum, it’s no longer just about the domestic competition but they need to push a notch higher on the continent.
“You can see they are playing well domestically and that is something that needs to be carried to the Champions League. It is not the same platform but at that stage you need to show up and deliver and show why you are a Sundowns player.
“For someone like me who has played before, I just have to make sure that everybody is calm in the camp and there is no pressure on the new guys so that they can express themselves.”
If Sundowns can overcome Maniema Union over two legs, they will qualify for the group stage of the Champions League for a seventh successive season.