Mamelodi Sundowns players will not get ahead of themselves but will take one game at a time because they are acutely aware of the loaded programme ahead of them following the start of the new season last week.
And attacking midfielder Sibusiso Vilakazi cautioned that if you want to succeed in Pan-African club competitions, you have to be humble otherwise if you think you are smart, you will never make it in CAF club competitions.
Sundowns kicked off the campaign with a 2-0 success over SuperSport United last week and have an MTN 8 Cup fixture against Bloemfontein Celtic lying in weight for them but before that, come up against Congolese side Otoho d’Oyo in the first leg CAF Champions League in Brazzaville on Sunday.
Vilakazi who marked his return from a long-term injury with a sensational left footed long-range strike from outside the area, admitted that sometimes things do not work the way one expects and even if you are a religious person and regardless of prayer, if a certain path has been prepared for you, that is the route you will have to take towards healing.
“Every set back offers you a chance to comeback stronger,” said Vilakazi. “For me the injury and every set back I encountered offered me the drive and determination to come back stronger and it so happened that I came back pretty strong to even make it to the 2019 AFCON.”
To have returned to action just in time and to make the final cut for the AFCON, has given Vilakazi the encouragement to make the most of the time he missed while nursing his knee injury and displayed his intentions to hog the headlines with his superb strike last week.
“Villa and Mshishi (Themba Zwane) are capable of becoming top goalscorers in the country,” said coach Pitso Mosimane. “I told them that it looks good on the eye but they got to finish what they start. They got to be ruthless and you got to see the number of chances they create but fail to finish to realize what I mean.”
Sundowns captain Hlompho Kekana, who was given an extra two weeks to rest following a five-year period in which he has hardly taken a break in addition to taking part in the 2019 African Nations Cup tournament in Egypt, said the game against SuperSport was both difficult and tough.
“The level of fitness was not up to scratch,” said Kekana. “Our team was not completely balanced. You just remember that some players enjoyed an eight week break and others received only a three-week break. But we knew what we had to do and what was expected of us.”
Meanwhile, striker Lebohang Maboe looked back at the start of his second season with the league champions and feels he enjoyed a pretty “decent” start to his career even though he could have done better.
“I think I’ve had a pretty decent season,” said Maboe. “But I still have a lot more to offer. I have to polish a few more things about my overall approach to the game and only then, perhaps, can I consider myself to be a top player.
“Yes, I have played different positions since my arrival at Sundowns because we are taught to be versatile, but I’m still not satisfied about my decision making in the final third.
“I get into crucial positions and should be finishing more. Those are some of the things I need to polish. But I’m grateful to have been accorded the opportunity to participate in the AFCON which is an experience that money cannot buy. However, I also believe there is enough room for improvement.”
Looking at this weekend’s encounter against Otoho d’Oyo in Brazzaville, Maboe said Champions League football was a different kettle of fish altogether and if you think you are smart, you will be embarrassed in Pan-African club competitions.