Mamelodi Sundowns ambassador Tiyani Mabunda has challenged the players to recapture the Champions League that has been elusive over the past few seasons.
Since they won the tournament in 2016, the Brazilians have suffered three quarterfinal exits and one during the group stages and Mabunda believes the current squad has potential to go all the way.
After getting a bye in the first and second rounds, Sundowns get their Champions League campaign on the road with a trip to AS Maniema Union of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) at the Stade des Martyrs on Sunday.
Mabunda, was part of the 2016 winning team under coach Pitso Mosimane, says they are going into this campaign more experienced and with a different approach.
“You saw the team last season, they did so well and unfortunately we didn’t win it. But I know that the boys have now really gotten more experience and they go into this campaign with a different approach.
“The approach is no longer to think about ending in the group stages or the knockout stages but try to go all the way and win the cup. I am expecting the guys to live up to the high expectations that they have set for themselves.”
“It is never easy to go away in the Champions League and win but in any tournament we play in we always try our best to get the best results. Over the years we have been growing in confidence in this competition and the current squad is really showing signs of excellence.”
Mabunda, who surprisingly retired from football to become ambassador at the club a few months ago, is helping new players to get used to their new surroundings.
“What is good is that the system at Sundowns has allowed new players to come and be integrated and get used to the heavy schedule, travelling, the conditions that you play under and the responsibilities that you carry as a brand.
“You go all over the continent and people celebrate Sundowns which is really shocking but they have grown to admire the kind of football that we play and the effort that is put in and the results that come out.
“We want to create a platform for the new guys to express themselves to their maximum, it’s no longer just about the domestic competition but they need to push a notch higher on the continent.
“You can see they are playing well domestically and that is something that needs to be carried to the Champions League. It is not the same platform but at that stage you need to show up and deliver and show why you are a Sundowns player.
“For someone like me who has played before, I just have to make sure that everybody is calm in the camp and there is no pressure on the new guys so that they can express themselves.”