The disappointment from Mamelodi Sundowns’ Caf Champions League campaign last season will push the Brazilians to claiming continental glory this season. These are the words of veteran goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene who has a Champions League and Africa Cup of Nations winners’ medal.
Sundowns failed to get out of their group in the last edition of the Champions League that was eventually won by Esperance of Tunisia. They are driven to make up for that failure this season.
Bafana BaStyle take on Al-Ahly Benghazi in Egypt on Sunday in the first leg of the first round of the Caf Champions League before hosting the return leg at Loftus Versfeld. The winner, over two legs, will advance to the group stage.
“It’s good to learn when you fail,” Mweene said. “It means you were short of something which you need to fix to advance to the group stage and beyond. We have learned a lot. When you fail, that’s when you identify all your mistakes so that you can rectify them. For us, there is a lot that we learnt. We saw our weaknesses and worked on it. This time around we want to go all the way. We didn’t finish teams when we had them on the ropes and they came back and hurt us. Those are the things that we learned. We reflected on it. We aren’t at our best in terms of scoring goals but it’s looking good at the moment and that was our main problem in the last edition of the Champions League.”
Sundowns are a team in transition after the departure of Percy Tau and Khama Billiat. The likes of Toni Silva, Lebohang Maboe and Ali Mezza are still finding their feet – especially in the Champions League. Mweene believes that the role of senior players will be key during this transition.
“Coach Pitso Mosimane has started to rebuild the team,” Mweene said. “There are new guys like Toni Silva, Ali Mezza, Gaston Sirino, Lebohang and Phakamani Mahlambi. They have to gel with the team and know how to play in the Champions League. They have to learn a lot of things. It will take a bit of time but that’s not an excuse. But also the players who have been there before, we know the feeling and we are experienced, we have to help the coach. Players like Hlompho, Anele, me, Denis, Anthony and all the other guys who are experienced and have been in the final of the Champions League have to help the coach so that the new players can integrate easily.”