ALL IN THE MIND

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - SPORT - MIHLALI BALEKA FOOT­BALL WRITER MAZOLA MOLEFE FOOT­BALL WRITER

MAMELODI Sun­downs de­fender Mosa Le­busa says they have to be men­tally strong in or­der to suc­ceed in this sea­son’s Caf Cham­pi­ons League.

Sun­downs re­turn to the con­ti­nen­tal show­piece to­day (4pm) as they have a date with Equa­to­rial Guinea out­fit Leones Vege­tar­i­anos in the first leg of the pre­lim­i­nary round of the com­pe­ti­tion.

A fine start this sea­son will prob­a­bly serve as a step­ping stone for the re­main­der of the tour­na­ment, un­like in the last cam­paign when Sun­downs failed to sur­pass the group stage.

Trav­el­ling

“I’ve watched a cou­ple of games from Sun­downs (ten­ure in the Cham­pi­ons League) and you could see that they played dif­fer­ent teams. Ob­vi­ously that makes the men­tal­ity dif­fer­ent com­pared to what we are used to back at home,” Le­busa said.

“Hence, we have to be men­tally strong more than any­thing else. The trav­el­ling also plays a big part be­cause trav­el­ling here (to Guinea) was mad­ness, but I think that we made the most of it.”

A draw will be a pos­i­tive re­sult for Le­busa and com­pany this af­ter­noon but he un­der­stands that they have to fin­ish off Vege­tar­i­anos.

While the re­turn leg is sched­uled for Tues­day, De­cem­ber 4, they first have to face neigh­bours THEIR op­po­nents’ pedi­gree might sug­gest it could very well be an easy day at the of­fice tonight for Or­lando Pi­rates when they make their long awaited re­turn to the Caf Cham­pi­ons League, but cap­tain Happy Jele says it’s im­por­tant to build their mo­men­tum right from the start.

With a name like Light Stars and given that the Sey­chelles league hardly gets any rave re­views, the Buc­ca­neers could very well run riot tonight at Or­lando Sta­dium.

Lofty am­bi­tions

It’s a pre­lim­i­nary round tie that marks the first step to the club’s lofty am­bi­tions of match­ing their tri­umph in 1995.

“When we play Light Stars it will be the start of a long and dif­fi­cult jour­ney,” skip­per Jele (pic­tured) said this week.

“Per­son­ally, I was there when we reached the fi­nal in 2013 and I re­mem­ber how close we came and how much we wanted to clinch the Cham­pi­ons League tro­phy, es­pe­cially for our sup­port­ers.

“Now that we have an­other chance it is key that we start things off on the right foot and build the mo­men­tum from there.”

Pi­rates will have to hit the ground run­ning – af­ter all this is what they have been work­ing to­wards since the Su­per­Sport United in a PSL Tsh­wane derby on Satur­day.

“If you think about it con­sid­er­ing the trav­el­ling, it’s mad­ness,” he said. “How­ever, we are pro­fes­sional play­ers and we can’t com­plain about that. Our job is to play foot­ball and that’s why we are here.

“So if a fix­ture comes like that, we just have to pick up our chins and go with it. If we can get through this fix­ture, we’ll have good mo­men­tum.”

It’s been a dream start for Le­busa at Sun­downs since mov­ing from rel­e­gated Ajax Cape Town early in the sea­son, al­though there were al­le­ga­tions that he wanted to stay at Ajax. How­ever, he’s slot­ted well into coach Pitso Mosi­mane’s style of play, re­gard­less of who­ever he’s part­nered in de­fence.

Mosi­mane has de­scribed the 26-year-old ver­sa­tile de­fender as a fu­ture Bafana Bafana prospect, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing that he’s a left-footed cen­tre-back.

As a re­sult, the lad from Welkom says that the men­tal­ity of win­ning has kept him on his toes at the Chloorkop-based club.

“As a player, wher­ever the coach puts you, you have to give it your all,” Le­busa said.

“I wouldn’t com­plain if the coach wants to play me out of po­si­tion as long I am help­ing the team progress into the next round. I think here at Sun­downs the pres­sure is dif­fer­ent be­cause ev­ery game that we play is for us to win.

“It’s an am­bi­tious club and the pres­sure of win­ning is dif­fer­ent com­pared to where I come from.” ar­rival of Mi­lutin “Mi­cho” Sre­do­je­vic last sea­son.

It was the coach who said their pri­or­ity was never to win the do­mes­tic PSL ti­tle, but to – at best – fin­ish run­ners-up and qual­ify for the Cham­pi­ons League.

Beat Light Stars over two legs, ne­go­ti­ate their way past ei­ther Vol­can Club (Co­moros) or African Stars (Namibia) and the South African out­fit is in the group stages of the con­ti­nent’s pre­mier club com­pe­ti­tion.

“From look­ing at the next four fix­tures we have a tough task ahead of us and as such it is key that we have our sup­port­ers there to help us through,” said Jele.

The Buc­ca­neers have reg­is­tered their big hit­ters for the Cham­pi­ons League and coach Sre­do­je­vic will have to be­come a mas­ter at ro­tat­ing his play­ers in both fix­tures on the con­ti­nent and at home.

There will be a quick turn around back to league ac­tion fol­low­ing their Cham­pi­ons League en­gage­ment when they host Mar­itzburg United at Or­lando Sta­dium on Satur­day night to try to hold on to their lead at the top of the stand­ings.

Pic­ture: Muzi Ntombela Back­pagePix

Pic­ture: Aubrey Kgakatsi/Back­pagePix

LOOK­ING FOR A GOOD START: Mosa Le­busa of Mamelodi Sun­downs says that the team needs to dig deep and grind out re­sults if they want to pro­ceed in the leagues in which they are com­pet­ing.

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