JOHANNESBURG - Top of the Absa Premiership table with a flawless away record and now considered favourites to win the title, Mamelodi Sundowns must address their poor home form in which they have only managed a single win in four outings.
“I think the problem is our mindset as players,” said captain Hlompho Kekana ahead of Maritzburg United’s visit to the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Wednesday night.
“Every time we play at home we want to win at all cost, and that compromises us a lot when we have to play our normal game. We forget to play and we just want to get the goals, which leaves us vulnerable at the back and we end up conceding stupid goals.”
Sundowns have a 100 percent win ratio on the road having collected maximum points in all seven games they have played away.
“We are more composed, more precise in front of goals,” Kekana explained their form on the road. “It is important to switch the two and make sure we dominate the game when we are in front of our home crowd. I think we did that against Baroka (in a 4-0 demolition last week) and it went very well for us.”
The skipper suggested Sundowns played under anxiety in their own backyard, hence they are so error prone and squander chances they would normally bury.
“I think we believe that if we don’t win the town is going to be on fire,” Kekana argued. “The players know they represent a big brand and the expectations are always high. We want to win the games so badly. But I think we understand now that we need to play our normal game, and when we do that we look better, calmer and dominant.”
That was especially the case when they dismantled a struggling Baroka to move up the table and followed that up with a slender 1-0 victory away to Golden Arrows in KwaMashu, which took Sundowns to the summit of the log with three games in hand.
If Sundowns can replicate their ruthless display against Baroka when they host a resurgent Maritzburg, then it could be the beginning of their attempts to turn Lucas Moripe Stadium into a fortress.
The Skipper does it again! 👆🙌 pic.twitter.com/Nhr2o190Hh
“We are aware of just how good they are,” Kekana said of the Team of Choice, a side that has recently come out of a slump to score seven goals in two league matches. “We know their danger men, their striking force which includes (Evans) Rusike and (Andrea) Fileccia. For us to prevent them from playing their normal game we must try and close them down, and hopefully come up with the goal that we need to win the match.”
Kekana also said that Sundowns were not getting carried away by leading the chasing pack, while enjoying the advantage of having three games in hand.
“It would be nice to get nine points from those games,” he said. “It’s a chance to open the gap, but it will not be easy. We face Maritzburg, then we have to plan differently when we face Bloemfontein Celtic and then our last fixture of the year against Cape Town City. It is important to approach one game at a time.”