JOHANNESBURG – 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.
“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 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 we 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.”@Mihlalibaleka