Sundowns looking to take out Caf Champions League frustrations on Chippa United
CAPE TOWN – Mamelodi Sundowns head into their Dstv Premiership clash with Chippa United in East London on Monday in a rather unfamiliar position.
The league champions suffered their first defeat in 28 competitive matches last Friday when they suffered a 2-0 reversal to CR Belouizdad in their last game of the Caf Champions League group stages. The loss did not hinder Sundowns' progression to the next round, but it still left a bitter taste in the mouth of the Brazilians.
"We face Chippa United on the back of a defeat and the mood is extremely sombre. We haven't felt like this in a very long time. There is of course a feeling of unhappiness in and around the workspace," said co-head coach Rhulani Mokwena.
But often a wounded lion is when its at most dangerous, and that's exactly the response Mokwena expects from his charges.
"When you have lost a match you are driven to dig even deeper and make sure you leave no stone unturned and that’s where we are with regards to Chippa. We have a short turnover period and a lot of work to be done. You have to put in the hours, when you create that work ethic you create the culture within the club that is heavily reliant on work, and that’s where we are now," he said.
"This is how we have to test our resolve, our mental strength. Can we bounce back? It is not in success that you are tested, but after the fall and how quickly you get up and arrest the situation. And that's we need to do. We need to feel the pain because the pain is good. The pain drives you not to be back in that space again."
Meanwhile, new Chippa coach Siyabulela Gwambi believes that being the underdogs at this point in the season is a benefit as the Eastern Cape side fights to lift themselves out of the relegation zone.
"The mood in the camp is that everyone is looking forward to the Sundowns game and beyond. When you have a good mood at training it will always help you to reach the objective. Everything has gone so well so far. Our preparation has gone well. But I can guarantee you that the mood is good in the camp, " Gwambi said.
"We know sometimes that when you play the log leaders and you are right at the bottom, you see yourself beating the log-leaders and only realise later that it's the same points that will get you out of the relegation zone. It excites and motivates the players to play against the players they are playing against on Monday.
"We understand we have a huge responsibility on our shoulders but I am confident we can do it against the log-leaders," he added.