JOHANNESBURG – Mamelodi Sundowns striker Sibusiso Vilakazi is adamant it will be business as usual when he returns to his native Soweto to face Orlando Pirates at Orlando Stadium tonight.
The Meadowlands-born player makes a return back home and is bang in form after scoring in two out three matches for the Brazilians this year.
“Vila” opened his 2020 account in the opening round of fixtures as Sundowns beat AmaZulu away from home. But it was his most recent contribution that has been the most significant so far this year.
On Saturday, the 30-year-old scored the match-winning goal in Sundowns’ 2-1 win over USM Alger in the Caf Champions League as the Brazilians booked their spot in the knockout stage for the fourth time in five seasons.
Vilakazi’s newly-found scoring spree has since earned him a signature celebration with coach Pitso Mosimane, where the pair can be found exchanging a “fancy kasi handshake” on the touchlines - just in front of the team’s dugout.
And with such confidence and backing from his coach, you can bet on Vilakazi’s beloveds from Soweto anticipating his homecoming with a glee, right? The Bafana Bafana international is, however, not putting himself under pressure, saying he will stick to his usual style of play tonight.
“It’s just one of those games where you just have to play your part as an individual, but most importantly there’s a collective effort that needs to be done in order for us to get a good win. It’s not about individuals. All departments, defence, midfield, and strikers have to be solid,” Vilakazi said.
Sundowns’ qualification for the knockout stage of Africa’s premier club competition with two games to spare has been a welcome bonus for their supporters, who have backed the team to turn their attention to domestic matters and close the nine-point gap between them and league leaders Kaizer Chiefs.
That is why bagging three points against the Buccaneers would be a step in the right direction, especially in what could be described as “a week from hell” for the champions, who will also face fellow title contenders and rivals SuperSport United on Saturday.
Amid this hectic schedule, where Sundowns need to collect points against the big guns, Vilakazi cut a modest figure, saying they will take each game at a time.
“We are not desperate at this point in time. We just have to be composed. After all, we’ve been in this situation where we’ve been behind with points. So, it’s one of those whereby you’ve got to dig more out of your system and try to catch up,” he said.
“It’s not easy though because the team on top is (winning) and putting pressure by getting the points on the table. But I don’t think it’s desperate times for us, we just have to take the games as they come.”
Mosimane has always outlined that Sundowns’ targets for the season are the grand slams - the league and Champions League titles. However, while they have already progressed to the next round of the Pan-African competition, Chiefs do not look like they will give up on their No 1 spot easily.
But the fact that Sundowns have had the mettle to win back-to-back titles in the last two seasons could very well be an added advantage compared to a Chiefs’ team that haven’t won the league in the last four seasons.