Sundowns celebrate after winning the 2016 CAF Champions League final against Zamalek in Alexandria, Egypt. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
JOHANNESBURG - Jerry Sikhosana believes having three teams in the group stage of African club competitions augurs well for South African football on the continent.

“It’s a sign that attitudes are changing for the better,” said the former Orlando Pirates striker who scored the goal that earned the Buccaneers the 1995 Champions Cup title.

Mamelodi Sundowns (in the Caf Champions League) as well as SuperSport United and Platinum Stars (In the Confederation Cup) are in action on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“It is quiet refreshing really. You now even have teams such as Cape Town City talking about venturing into Africa and wanting to do well there. That’s what we need. We need clubs that will say they want to go out on the continent and represent us well,” he said.

Such an attitude, Sikhosana believes, can only be of great benefit to the national team.

“The continental experience at club level will automatically filter to the senior national team. If you can recall, the time we won it (Champions Cup) back in 1995, the country went on to win the Africa Cup of Nations the following year.

“The very same players who excel for their respective clubs at continental level will not find it difficult doing exactly the same thing in national colours. They already know what it is like to compete against the best on the continent.”

As the three South African clubs are on the road in their search for the first wins after all drawing their opening encounters at home two weeks ago, Sikhosana anticipates a tough journey for both Sundowns and SuperSport in particular.

“Now that they are champions, Sundowns have a target on their back. Everybody will want to beat the defending champions, so Pitso (Mosimane) is going to have to dig deep into his experience to make sure they do well.”

As for SuperSport, the impending departure of coach Stuart Baxter is bound to have an impact - Sikhosana believes.

“You’ve got SuperSport as well who are soon to part ways with their coach, following Stuart Baxter’s appointment as the new Bafana boss. I foresee them struggling to go further unless the club hires somebody with the required continental experience to lead them there.”

Baxter has not travelled with Matsatsantsa to their assignment out in Gabon where they take on CF Mounana on Tuesday night as he is busy with preparations for the African Nations Cup qualifying clash away to Nigeria next month (June 10). He will announce his squad on Thursday.

In his absence, assistant coach Kaitano Tembo will be in charge for the match.

Whatever the results, there can be no denying that having three teams in the group stages will stand Bafana Bafana in good stead in both Afcon and World Cup qualifiers.

The Star

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