Mamelodi Sundowns’ defender Mosa Lebusa is looking forward to making his debut in the Caf Champions League when the Brazilians take on Leones Vegetarianos on Wednesday at Nuevo Estadio de Ebebiyín in Equatorial Guinea.
The 2016 Caf Champions League winners are appearing in this competition for a fifth successive year – a record for a South African club. Lebusa will rest assured knowing that he is surrounded by a group of players who are experienced when it comes to playing in this competition.
“It’s very exciting,” Lebusa said from Equatorial Guinea. “I am looking forward to it. I’ve heard the guys talking about it. It’s not easy to play in the Champions League. You have to be strong physically and mentally. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve watched a couple of Sundowns’ games of their previous matches in the Champions League. They play different teams from different leagues and the mentality is different from what we are used to back home. You have to be mentally strong more than anything else. Mental strength plays a big part because the travelling here was madness. But we made the most of everything. Everyone here knows the goal and we’re just focusing on winning the first game.”
Sundowns were greeted by rain upon their arrival in Equatorial Guinea after a long trek via Ethiopia. Sundowns travelled almost 20 000km in 39 hours. As if the journey to get to this match wasn’t hard enough, the Brazilians have an even tougher journey in their return. They will still travel via Ethiopia and land in South Africa on Friday. Two days later they take on their Tshwane rivals, SuperSport United, in the derby of the country’s capital. Three days after the Tshwane Derby, Sundowns hosts Vegetarianos at Loftus Versfeld in the return leg of the Champions League.
“If you think about everything, considering the travelling, it’s madness,” Lebusa said. “But then again we are professional players, we can’t complain about that. Our job is to play football and that’s where we are happy. If the fixture comes like that, we have to take it on the chin and go with it. If we can get two wins out of this – now and on Tuesday, we can get the momentum we need because we’re playing a number of games in a short space of time. It could even help us improve our position in the league.”
The versatile defender, who can play at left-back and as on the left side of central defence, is out of his comfort zone at Sundowns – a team that possesses a galaxy of stars.
“The pressure is different here in the sense that you have to win every game,” Lebusa said. “I play for a very ambitious team right now. The pressure of winning is massive compared to where I come from. As a player, you set yourself targets. You want to win. You wan to do good if given a chance. The pressure will always be there, what’s important is how you handle it.”