Caf Champions League
JOHANNESBURG – The disappointment of failing to get out of the group stages of this year’s Caf Champions League will drive Mamelodi Sundowns to adding a second star to their jersey.
So says the Brazilians’ talismanic winger Anthony Laffor.
Sundowns will know on Friday which other three teams they will have to face in the round-robin phase of the continent’s premier club knockout competition, when the draw is made in Cairo, Egypt.
And their Liberian star believes the harsh lesson learnt in the previous campaign will be the fuel that helps them go all the way, like they did in 2016.
“Everything is possible,” Laffor said. “We can get the second star. The reason we didn’t get a second star this year was because we messed up in Togo in our last campaign.”
Sundowns failed to get out of a group they were expected to dominate alongside Wydad Casablanca of Morocco, as it featured minnows AS Togo-Port and Horoya of Guinea.
The Brazilians were humbled by their elimination, having started the campaign confident they would easily finish in the top two.
Laffor explained: “Our technical team and the players now know what to do. It was frustrating not making it out of the group we were in. We still talk about it even now.
“I think that in the years we have been in the group stage of the Champions League, that was the weakest group we were in.
“But it’s football, you’re up there, and football humbles you.
“The football gods humbled us, to show us that we’re not all that in Africa because there are still a lot of good teams. We now need to keep our feet on the ground.”
Laffor was instrumental in seeing Sundowns through to the next phase of the competition with a goal and two assists in their 4-0 demolition of Libya’s Al Ahly Benghazi at the weekend.
The Liberian superstar has always been the man for the big occasions at Sundowns, although he does not like the label.
He is the man coach Pitso Mosimane and Sundowns look to for inspiration when the chips are down. It doesn’t matter how long he’s been on the sidelines or what’s happening in his personal life.
“(I am able to do that) because I am very focused,” Laffor said. “I don’t pay attention to what’s happening outside football.
“I keep my feet on the ground, I stay humble and I support the guys who are playing.
“Whenever I am given a chance, I need to make the most of it. Sundowns is a big team, so when you’re given an opportunity, you have to make use of it. It’s not about me.”
The 33-year-old is in the final year of his contract with Sundowns. From next month, he can sign a pre-contract with any team, as six months would be left in his contract.
Just like it was the case in his last contract renewal, Laffor is linked with Kaizer Chiefs, and he is putting on magical performances.
“I am not crazy, I am responsible and I am a professional,” Laffor said in response to being told that speculation about him is caused by the uncertainty around his renewal.
“I just need to keep it simple. Keep my feet on the ground and see what happens. At the moment, I am a Sundowns’ player. I am happy. I have to be happy. The team isn’t doing anything bad to me.”