The 2016 African champions begin their latest foray into the Caf Champions League at the end of what has been a testing month for them
Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Rhulani Mokwena admits that Masandawana will need to dig deep in order to come away with a positive result from their Caf Champions League first-round showdown with Botswana champions Jwaneng Galaxy at the Lobatse Stadium on Tuesday afternoon (15:30 kick-off).
The match is the first of a two-legged affair, with the return game taking place in Pretoria on January 6.
The Botswana champions earned their spot in the first round of the Champions League after beating US Zilimadjou of Comoros 5-1 on aggregate, while Sundowns were handed a bye in the preliminary round.
The Tshwane club head into the match on the back of a testing week in which they were still mourning the tragic death in a motor vehicle accident of defender Motjeka Madisha. Just three weeks before that tragedy, another of their team-mates, Anele Ngcongca, passed away in the same manner.
Despite the obvious emotional toll, the Brazilians were still able to claim four points last week in the league by beating TS Galaxy and drawing with Golden Arrows.
“The PSL and the Champions League are completely different projects. On the one hand, we have the feelings of being unbeaten and sitting as log leaders, of course, no title is won at this moment,” Mokwena said after the draw against Arrows.
“But we have to treat it as an isolated situation and focus on the next two games as isolated projects. In the sense that we need to get a very good result in Botswana, and use the experience that we have as a team to be able to qualify ourselves for the group stage.”
Jwaneng Galaxy were founded in 2015 through the merger of two clubs, Jwaneng Comets and Debswana Youngsters.
Already in their short history they have won the league, finished as runners-up in the league, and won two cups.
“Galaxy FC are a good team,” Mokwena said.
“We’ll get footage from our analysts and try to make sure that we are well prepared for the game. It’s going to be tough, you can see with the national team how there’s a resurgence in football with regards to what is happening in Botswana.
“So we have to make sure we are well prepared, we have got our work cut out for us. But we know what we have to do. We might not be in the best space emotionally but we know what we have to do and we’ll organise ourselves, unify ourselves and focus on getting a very good result.”