Cape Town - Mamelodi Sundowns right-back Asavela Mbekile is hoping to make an impact in the CAF Champions League after a lack of game time for his club this past season.
The defending African champions suffered their first defeat in the group stages of the 2017 competition when they were stunned 2-1 by Tunisian side Esperance at Lucas Moripe Stadium two weeks ago.
The Brazilians dropped to third spot in Group C with four points, three behind leaders Esperance after a trio of matches.
Mbekile found the going tough at Sundowns last term, with Thapelo Morena and Anele Ngcongca both ahead of him in the pecking order for the right-back position.
But the 30-year-old defender is relishing the prospect of helping Masandawana retain their continental crown, as they prepare for the long trip to North Africa on June 20 against the Tunis giants.
"Yes, I have had a very limited game time this past season, mainly due to injuries that have been plaguing me for the most part of the season," Mbekile told Vodacom Soccer.
"And of course the players I compete with for a starting berth have been doing well, so it has not been easy to get the nod.
"But at a team like Sundowns where competition for a starting berth is always tight, one has to keep on working hard while waiting patiently for a chance.
"Being injury-free and back in the team's 18-man squad comes as a motivational factor to me. I'm now looking forward to fight my way back into the team's starting XI, and make an impact in our campaign of defending our Champions League title.
"Despite our home defeat against Esperance, I'm still fully optimistic that we still have what it takes to bounce back in the second leg [against Esperance]. Plus we will be still up against Saint George and AS Vita at home."