Mamelodi Sundowns have found the going tough in domestic football of late after failing to win in their last three matches.
Captain Hlompho Kekana has admitted that Sundowns have developed a fear of losing and indicated pressure could be responsible for the Tshwane giants' slump.
“I think it’s the nature of the game‚” Kekana told The Sowetan.
“Barcelona won that difficult match [6-1 against Paris Saint-Germain in the Uefa Champions League] where nobody really gave them a chance," he said.
"Then they went to Deportivo la Coruna in La Liga last week where everybody expected them to win‚ and they didn’t. I think it’s the nature of a big team that you have this fear of losing every time you take to the pitch‚ and the expectations are very high," he continued.
“As players, we can’t get over that – it’s all over the world. A fear of losing‚ of not scoring‚ of conceding early; those are the elements playing in our heads and obviously as the reigning champions you don’t want to lose,” Kekana added.
Sundowns have travelled to Uganda to face Kampala Capital City Authority with a slender 2-1 advantage, and Kekana is confident that they can win the match.
“We know very well that we have to go there and apply ourselves like we have been. And we know that we have to keep zero behind‚” Kekana said.
“But I have a strong belief in my teammates that we really stand a chance of progressing to the group stage if we play our normal game‚ don’t concede‚ and try to get a goal," he added.
The 31-year-old said the Brazilians will make use of the valuable experience gained in their triumphant continental campaign last year to overcome KCCA.
“I have strong belief that we really learnt a lot in last year’s tournament. We now understand the nature of how the games are played‚ and that if we don’t concede we stand a chance,” Kekana said.
“But I have a strong belief that we are going to score in Kampala‚ and we’ll see ourselves in the group stage,” Kekana concluded.