BATTLE-WEARY Mamelodi Sundowns will dust themselves off to be ready for their next challenge – hosting Chippa United in their MTN8 semifinal, second leg clash at the Lucas Moripe Stadium tonight (7.30pm).
Downs have just returned from a tiring trip to Ndola where they lost 2-1 to Zambian champions Zesco United in a hard-fought Caf Champions League semifinal, first leg clash at the weekend.
But the Brazilians are thriving on the pressure, according to hardworking midfield kingpin, Asavela Mbekile.
He said they were ready for any eventuality against Chippa, who held them to a 0-0 draw in Port Elizabeth a fortnight ago.
“We’re not worried about all the travelling recently,” he said.
“We have a lot of players, such as Villa (Sibusiso Vilakazi), Ricardo Nascimento and (Lucky) Mahomi, who are fresh.
“We’re up for this new challenge and determined to reach the MTN8 final, as this is a cup that has eluded us for some time.”
The last time Downs won the competition was in 2007 when it was still called the SAA Supa 8.
Mbekile said he expected another tough encounter from Chippa, similar to the first leg: “Chippa are a good team and play well. But the team that scores first will win it.
“It was so tight in the last game and it will be similar this time, so I think there will be only one goal in this game – and we aim to score it.”
But he admits Downs have not been as prolific as usual in front of goal.
Head coach Pitso Mosimane will rely on the likes of Keagan Dolly, Khama Billiat and Villa, who will be key players for the home side.
Mbekile said overcoming Chippa to get to the MTN8 final against Bidvest Wits on 1 October would be a massive boost for the players ahead of their return Champions League clash with Zesco at the same venue this Saturday.