Tiyani Mabunda has relived some of his most memorable moments in a Mamelodi Sundowns shirt and says he is now itching to return to the pitch.
The Premier Soccer League has been on hold for more than two months now because of Covid-19, but players have been keeping fit through online sessions.
It’s given ‘Sugar’ time to reflect.
“I have played against some of the biggest teams in the world and on the continent and that’s really a great feeling to have gone up against Barcelona, Zamalek, Al Ahly, Wydad Casablanca – those are the games you cherish because they bring the best out of you because you dig deep and exhaust all the efforts that you have,” explains the midfielder
“I have something to be proud of. I have special moments against each of those teams. The first game I played against Al Ahly we won 5-0, which is memorable because it has never happened that they would lose by such a big margin. We rewrote history. With Zamalek, I was able to get my goal back after my first CAF Champions League goal was annulled (against ES Setif) and Zamalek are the team we beat in the final. We’ve also built such a great relationship with Wydad and their fans.”
Sundowns winning the Champions League in 2016 gave them passage to the Fifa Club World Cup in Japan later that year.
“Playing in Japan at the Fifa Club World Cup was a great blessing for me. It could have only been by God’s grace to participate at the highest level. It’s something to cherish and something I will never forget,” says Mabunda.
“I’ve learnt throughout my career that it is not just talent that will get you there, but it also required a lot of hard work, especially if you remember our journey to getting to the Club World Cup. We learnt that it’s not about individual brilliance, it’s about team work at that level and being able to realise the moments you have to take as a team. It really built us not only as footballers, but as human beings.”
As all clubs await the greenlight from the PSL on resuming play, Mabunda hopes Sundowns can make it a record 10th league title.
“We have been through a difficult time with the pandemic and the lockdown, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. We look forward to returning to the field of play because that is who we are and what we stand for. We want to continue where we left off, but we really needed this rest,” says the 32-year-old.
“For the first time in seven years we have had time to rest. So I am looking forward to restarting the engine and playing high intensity football. We are geared up to retain our title. I believe the boys are ready and want to also celebrate the club turning 50 years.”