Mamelodi Sundowns captain Hlompho Kekana relishes North African challenge

Masandawana's captain is relishing the opportunity of locking horns with North African opposition once again

Mamelodi Sundowns resume the defence of their Caf Champions League title with a quarter final clash against Moroccan giants Wydad Casablanca on Sunday.

Masandawana ended the group stage as runners-up after a string of indifferent results, subsequently setting up a meeting with Wydad. But the Brazilians captain Hlompho Kekana is confident ahead of the clash and is relishing the opportunity of once again facing off against North African opposition

“I think the North Africans generally play the same model of a game. And I like playing them‚ to be honest‚” Kekana was quoted by TimesLive as saying.

“Because they give you time to think‚ they give you a lot of challenges tactically. They know how to score.

“As player’s we’re excited to play against them. We know it’s not easy to win matches against them. But we learn a lot from these matches.

“You grow in these matches. You don’t play the same teams you would normally play week in and week out.

“You have to be on your toes the whole time‚ the level of concentration always has to be high‚ and it takes mental strength.

“I’ve seen players like Percy Tau and Themba Zwane doing well in the national team‚ and that’s the foundation that they got from this tournament,” he explained.

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However, a concern for Sundowns has been their form at home in this year’s competition. While in previous years Sundowns have been dominant in Tshwane, this year they have struggled to live up to those heights, failing to win any of their home games in the group stages.

“I think we are much aware as players of the situation that we are in. We haven’t been doing well at home‚” Kekana admitted.

“But I think this time around it’s a different ball game altogether. If you check the away goals aggregate format‚ we are aware that we have to win our matches at home to see ourselves in a good space when we go away,” Kekana concluded.