JOHANNESBURG - The brutal honesty Motjeka Madisha used in his assessment of his performance this season in Mamelodi Sundowns’ colours is what the Brazilians need in their introspection ahead of their clash with Rayon Sports on Sunday.
The Brazilians have themselves to blame for returning from Rwanda with a goalless draw in the first leg of their CAF Champions League’s first round tie.
Sundowns’ coach Pitso Mosimane admitted that the players took their foot off the pedal after seeing that they would have it easy. That almost backfired as Rayon came close to scoring what would have been a crucial goal.
Sundowns can’t afford to take anything for granted on Sunday at Loftus Versfeld with this match delicately poised. The Tshwane giants need a victory to ensure they don’t crash out of the Champions League which is why they will allow fans wearing yellow or Sundowns’ regalia to enter the stadium for free in order to drum up support.
“Last season we failed to retain our title (by losing to eventual winners Wydad Casablanca in the quarter-finals),” Madisha said.
“We must win it by hook or crook this season. We have to grind the results, starting on Sunday by advancing to the group stage.”
Madisha didn’t feature in the first leg in Kigali with Mosimane opting for the experienced Wayne Arendse and Ricardo Nascimento in central defence. Jingles praised the pair along with goalkeeper Denis Onyango for how they dealt with Rayon’s fast attacking threat. Madisha’s speed could see him return to the starting XI to continue his quest at redemption.
“This is the worst season I have had since I was promoted to the first team (two years ago),” Madisha said. “My game hasn’t been consistent. I have been struggling here and there. But the team has been there for me, pushing me and trying to help me where they can.
"I still have a lot to learn. Last season I was doing well and the team was appreciating my work. Now that I am struggling here and there, they are trying to help me. They are showing me what a team is all about, the collective pulling together for the common goal and not leaving anyone behind.”
While there is no disputing Madisha’s talent and leadership qualities, the 23-year-old is erratic - a pretty costly trait for a defender.
“I have made a couple of errors. I remember the mistakes I made against Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates. Those mistakes killed me. I wasn’t strong enough in those games. But the team has been there for me. I have recovered from that because they gave me a chance to play and I managed to do well in our last game against EC Bees.
"Being a footballer isn’t easy. One mistake can kill you. But it’s all in your mind, whether you take that mistake and allow it to kill you or you use it as motivation to improve. I have managed to bounce back from those mistakes.”
The versatile defender couldn’t have chosen a better time to bounce back from his mistakes with Sundowns also chasing a record eighth league title in the PSL era and Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter naming him in the squad to take part in a Four Nations tournament in Zambia later this month.
“The national team coach is maybe also trying to help me improve my football,” Madisha said. “Being called up to the national team is a bonus for me. It’s a good thing to be called up while I have had those horrible games. I have to prove to myself and the country that I am good player, under pressure or without any pressure.”