Downs’ home game must count

Hlompho Kekana (Gallo  Images)
Hlompho Kekana (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - Mamelodi Sundowns captain Hlompho Kekana wants his side to finish off the CAF Champions League final tie at home.

Sundowns host Egyptian giants Zamalek in the first leg of the final on Saturday at Lucas Moripe Stadium. Kekana believes taking a healthy lead to Egypt in a fortnight’s time will put them in good stead.

Kekana, who was on national duty with Bafana Bafana in Burkina Faso, emphasised the importance of making the home game count.

He said they must keep a clean sheet and score as many goals as possible as they cannot afford to slip up at this stage.

“We cannot come this far and let it slip through our fingers. We have worked hard to be here and we must make it count,” Kekana said.

“It is not often that teams reach the finals, and we have the opportunity to lift it. We have sat down as players to say how much we need this one, and I believe we have what it takes to win it.”

But he cautioned against complacency and undermining their opponents, particularly after beating them twice – home and away – in the group stages.

“We know what to expect as we have played them twice already. But it does not matter what happened in the past as this is a different game altogether. The good thing is that we know each other,” Kekana said.

He identified three areas where Zamalek excelled, but said they would have a plan for that: good organisation, set pieces and counter-attack.

The midfielder did admit, however, that they missed Colombian striker Leonardo Castro, who has been out with an ankle injury.

“We used to play around him as we knew what he could do. Now we have to readjust our game because of his absence. But we have other good players who can do the job for us, but it is not the same without Castro.”

Sundowns have been struggling in front of goals since Castro’s injury and had to rely on Anthony Laffor for goals.

Downs lost to Bidvest Wits in the final of the MTN8 recently, but Kekana reckoned this was a wake-up call and said they would make up for the loss in the Champions League final.

“We have another chance to atone for what happened last weekend and we want to make amends.

“Lifting this trophy would mean a lot, not only to me, but to the country as a whole because it has been a while since we celebrated as a country.”

He said they would have to be mentally strong and have the right attitude in both legs.

“It would depend on who wants it more on the day,” he said.

CAF Champions League final

Saturday: Lucas Moripe Stadium

Kickoff: 15:00 

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