Stuttering Sundowns focus on Chiefs

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But that voice quickly changes to being more serious when the subject switches to what has happened to Mamelodi Sundowns on the domestic front after they won the CAF Champions League.

The Brazilians have stuttered in their Absa Premiership defence, losing to Cape Town City before they picked up their first three points of the season against Polokwane City. In both those matches Sundowns played without the swagger that pushed them to reign supreme on the continent.

“When we look at the log, it actually motivates us more than anything,” Arendse said. “We are second from bottom and that’s not befitting of African champions and the country’s reigning champions. We know what put us there, we had to focus on winning the Champions League. We achieved that. Now the focus is to make our way up the log. We can’t just be African champions by name. We need to show that by how we play. We learned a lot from that experience. The lessons will put us in a good position to defend the league.”

The Brazilians will continue with their bid to retain the Absa Premiership on Saturday at Loftus Versfeld against a Kaizer Chiefs side they took it from. Amakhosi head into this match with more consistency than Sundowns. Chiefs have been solid at the back, keeping six successive clean sheets. But had they been more clinical upfront, with their last two league matches goalless draws, they would be sitting at the summit instead of the third place they occupy. Sundowns don’t have problems with finding the back of the net. Their problems have been more psychological, trying to find the right motivation to play in matches that are of a lower stature than the Champions League.

“We won’t need any motivation when we play Chiefs,” said Arendse. “The stadium will be packed with people wanting to watch two good teams. All eyes will be on this match. The people, especially our fans, will be looking to be entertained. It will be an easier match to play because we know we need to bring our A game. We need the three points more than them.”

This game is ideal for the likes of Sibusiso Vilakazi, Yanick Zakri and Lucky Mohomi to raise their hands. Only Thapelo Morena and Ricardo Nascimento, from the players who weren’t registered in the Champions League, have picked up the baton with ease.

Arendse knows what it’s like to join the Brazilians – while they are in motion and have to fit in quickly. He had to fill the boots of former captain Ramahlwe Mphahlele when he was injured last season. Arendse did that job so well that Mphahlele was used at rightback instead of centreback upon his return.

“If you know what you want, it will be easy,” he said. “I didn’t come to Sundowns to sit on the bench. I came here to play and when I got my chance I took it.”

The Star

Original source: Stuttering Sundowns focus on Chiefs

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