‘Downs won’t wilt under pressure’

MAMELODI Sundowns are used to big occasions and their friendly against Barcelona at FNB Stadium,Picture: Gallo images.

MAMELODI Sundowns are used to big occasions and their friendly against Barcelona at FNB Stadium is not about to give them undue stage fright tonight.

This is the view of captain Hlompho Kekana as his side prepares to host the Spanish La Liga champions.

Kekana feels there is no bigger match than the fixture against Zamalek in Cairo two years ago in the CAF Champions League final which they won. Taking a 3-0 advantage to Egypt in 2016, Sundowns did well to protect their lead as they only lost 1-0 in the return leg. This is the match Kekana still remembers as they prepare to host Barca at a sold-out FNB Stadium. Though it may not come with the same prize, Kekana reminded said Sundowns can perform anywhere against any opposition.

“If we survived in Cairo I don’t think anything will break us,” Kekana said. “We have played important matches before and we’ve seen Sundowns going to Cairo and win the CAF Champions League for the first time. I have seen Sundowns play important matches before and this is one of the important clashes we have to face as Mamelodi Sundowns players and we are looking forward to it.”

Kekana is aware however, that it is not every day that any South African footballer comes up against some of the best players in the world. Kekana is relishing the prospect of playing against the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

“Obviously, this is a big encounter and we are looking forward to it and it will be one of the best moments in our football career. “It is always nice for me to give thanks to people who believed in me to be captain of this team and I will always try to serve them and try to give of my best.” Anele Ngcongca, one of the Sundowns players to have played in Europe and having played against the best, has advised his teammates to be fully focused.

“Most of our players are seniors. Players who are playing in the national team,” Ngcongca said. “I think they will cope with the occasion. I spoke to them about how it’s also about expressing themselves and enjoying the game.”

-NEVILLE KHOZA|nevillek@afrone.co.za