Botswana’s defending champions Jwaneng Galaxy have vowed they are ready to punch above their weight when they take on Mamelodi Sundowns in Lobatse on Tuesday.
The bold diamond miners have made it clear in no uncertain terms that they will not treat the 2016 African champions “like royalty” when they host them in the Caf Champions League first round at the Lobatse Sports Complex, some 60km from the capital Gaborone.
Despite going for eight months without any competitive football, Galaxy were uncompromising when they met US Zilimadjou of Comoros. They hammered the Comoros outfit 5-1 on aggregate in the preliminary round.
But while their spokesperson Tankiso Morake admits Sundowns possess more quality in their squad, he insists they will not be intimidated.
“When we agreed to take part in this competition we knew we were going to face teams like Sundowns,” Morake told FARPost.
He added that they were in Africa’s premier club football competition by merit. “Much as they are champions in South Africa, we are here because we were champions in Botswana. We’re champions playing other champions. So we approach it as a draw against any other champion in Caf,” he added.
Galaxy were crowned league champions their after Covid-19 shut the door on all football activities earlier this year.
At the time, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) said it received recommendations from a medical committee to end the season. The committee insisted it would be costly to finish off the season.
Galaxy held a one point lead over 2018/19 champions Township Rollers with 10 games remaining when the BFA declared them champions.
Sundowns, on the other hand, completed the season in style, winning a treble under Pitso Mosimane, who is now with Egyptian giants Al Ahly.
The Brazilians have so far played seven League games and are yet to lose in the DStv Premiership while their Botswana opponents await the resumption of the League in February next year.
“To every sportsman, it’s a worry when you’ve been inactive for a long time but we have to accept the situation and prepare to compete. We’ve played a couple of friendly matches and two Caf games. The boys are back,” declared Morake.
In Sundowns’ first seven games, their talisman Themba Zwane has scored seven goals and could continue with his rich vein of form in the Caf Champions League. Besides Zwane, the Downs have veteran Hlompho Kekana, Andile Jali and the hard-running Peter Shalulile.
Galaxy, on the other hand, will be banking on talented national team midfielder Thero Setsile.
The Brazilians are set to host Galaxy for return match in the first week of January next year.
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By Mthokozisi Dube