Kekana Calls For Full House On Sunday06/Jul/2017 22:15
The African champions take on AS Vita Club in their final Group C game of the Confederation of African Football Champions League.
This will be the first time a fixture is played in the evening on a Sunday, which will provide their fans with ample time to get to the stadium.
Traditionally, evening fixtures are played either midweek or on Saturdays, but CAF has ruled that they will determine both the date and time fixtures are to be played.
Sundowns have already qualified for the next round of the competition following a victory over St George, but they are not taking this game as a dead rubber. They are going all out for a win, and hope leaders Esperance lose against St George so they can end the stage top of their group.
And for Vita, it is all a matter of pride, and they will play to avoid the wooden spoon in the group. They also have a massive score to settle against the Champions. They had beaten the Tshwane Giants to eliminate them from the last campaign, but were disqualified and Sundowns reinstated, giving them the stroke of luck and good fortune that saw them winning the championship.
Add to that the fact that Sundowns also humiliated them in front of their fans in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the reverse fixture, they will have everything to play got.
Sundowns captain Hlompho Kekana would dearly love to see Masandawana pack the stadium and provide the kind of vibe they experienced last time out in Ethiopia, where 30 000 fans packed the stadium to cheer St George. Kekana took to social media to call on South African fans to get behind the local teams in the same way.
With the pressure off, they will be able to relax and play the kind of game the fans expect from champions. Vita can certainly play, and their hard running play has made them a difficult side to beat.
There have been suggestions that Coach Pitso Mosimane will give some fringe players a run. The truth is that he does not have the luxury of fringe players, having lost Keagan Dolly and now Teko Modise from the registered squad.
And, with the injuries his team is carrying, he is left with very little room to play around with.
Even more importantly, Mosimane knows that winning is a habit, and has shown in the past that he takes ever game seriously.
With less pressure, two players will be key up front, and both Percy Tau and Yannick Zakri are due some goals. Sibusiso Vilakazi will also face less pressure, while Themba Zwane can improve on his performance.
Another player that is due a turn in fortune is Leonardo Castro, who, with Dolly gone and Khama Billiat battling injury, is the last of the CBD.
In defence Mosimane has been riding his luck. Last time out, Denis Onyango saved a penalty which, had it gone in, would have changed the course of the game. Motjeka Madisha blasted his own upright in trying to clear. But it is often said that one makes his own luck, and there was nothing lucky about the manner Thapelo Morena laid out for Anthony Laffor to score the winning goal against St George.
Mosimane will probably look to Morena to bring that same level of pace to the game to pin back the Vita backs.
Sundowns communications co ordinator Thulani Thuswa was just as awed by the fans in Ethiopia. He said that he could feel it reverberate in the stadium.
“We know we can create the same vibe. We have done it before, so let’s go out there and make it a big day for the Tshwane Giants,” Thuswa said.
“The captain has asked for this, and appealed for a high turnout. A siyeni Masandawana!”