Jeremy Brockie is on a mission to not only help Mamelodi Sundowns reach the group stage of the CAF Champions League, but also remind defenders across the country and the continent of his powers as a striker.
The New Zealand sniper has gone from a lethal finisher who gave defenders sleepless nights to a misfiring slingshot that defenders look at and pity.
But Brockie is slowly returning to his old self. His goal against Free State Stars in the Absa Premiership last month, his first competitive goal in Sundowns’ colours, kick-started his goal-scoring form which he has taken to the Champions League to score two goals in two matches.
“I played bits and pieces in the last Champions League campaign,” Brockie said, speaking from Egypt where Sundowns will take on Libya’s Al-Ahly Benghazi tomorrow in the first leg of the first round.
“Whenever teams were coming up against Sundowns, it was Khama (Billiat), Percy (Tau) and Gaston (Sirino). After having a quiet year, in terms of CAF football, my name got forgotten a little bit. It’s been nice to score in both games (against Leones Vegetarianos) and contribute to the team’s progress to the group stage.”
Brockie’s love affair with continental football could help him rekindle the flames in domestic football where he has been in the dog box due to his struggles up front.
His style of play suits continental football because it’s not about being pretty but being effective. He was very effective for SuperSport United in the 2017 CAF Confederation Cup that Matsatsantsa a Pitori lost in the final, while he finished as the top goalscorer.
“There are a couple of reasons why continental football brings out the best of me,” Brockie said.
“Obviously you always want to test yourself at the highest level in football. Playing in the African competitions gives you that test.
“A lot of people struggle with the travelling and all the tough stuff that comes with CAF football. I get quite excited about it, going into a country I haven’t been to before. I go there with my eyes open and looking to learn about that country.
“I really embrace it because if you complain about it, it’s not good for anyone. It’s probably one of the reasons why I have done quite well in terms of scoring goals in the competition.”
Sundowns’ trip to Egypt was easier than their trip to Equatorial Guinea in the preliminary round. This time, Sundowns flew direct instead of the 39 hours they spent travelling from Johannesburg to Malabo via Ethiopia. Travelling is just one aspect that tests players in continental football.
There are other mental tests that make the football small compared to those challenges. Brockie has passed the mental tests with distinction.
“It’s all about preparing yourself even before you leave South Africa,” Brockie said.
“Knowing what’s ahead of you is important. You check the programme and how many hours the flight is so that you can maybe download some series and find ways to pass time because there’s a lot of sitting in airports, planes and buses.
“But if you can find yourself a distraction from that and concentrate on what you’re there to do, then that’s half the job done.
“When match day comes you’re doing what you love. It’s a competition I want to do well in. The team wants to do well in this competition to get a second star.