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Sundowns must convert their chances

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After eight matches, they’ve only won three games and drawn five

CALL TO ARMS: Thapelo Morena of Mamelodi Sundowns says that the Chloorkop teams strikers are going to have to start banging in goals sooner rather than later if they hope to dominate top-flight football.Picture: Samuel Shivambu / BackpagePix

Mamelodi Sundowns wing-back Thapelo Morena acknowledges that they have to start taking their chances upfront if they are to dominate top-flight football this season. On Saturday, the Brazilians lost 2-0 to Baroka FC in the Telkom Knockout quarter-finals.

The defeat ensured that they lost out on a second Cup competition this season as they had already missed out on the MTN8. Morena and company will now turn their attentions to their PSL title defence as they welcome Free State Stars to Loftus tonight. Although they are the only unbeaten team in the league so far, their performance has been disappointing.

After eight matches, they’ve only won three games and drawn five.

“We’ve been working hard as a defensive unit and that starts from the two (strikers) upfront,” Morena said as Sundowns have kept four clean sheets in the last six matches. “But like I said, our biggest problem has been creating chances that we don’t convert (into goals).”

While, his team haven’t had the best of starts this season, Morena currently is enjoying one of the best spells of his career.

After seven matches in all competitions this season, the versatile 25-year-old player was called-up to the Bafana Bafana squad to face Seychelles in 2019 Afcon qualifiers. However, that was short-lived as he picked up a thigh injury on the second day of camp. Morena recovered sooner than expected and credits Sundowns’ coaches and rehabilitation programme for that.

“Firstly, I’d like to thank the coach and the technical team because they are the ones that put my mind in the right space,” he said. “I think I’ve been doing really well during rehab, and that enhanced my early recovery. Rehab is very important for a player. And that makes it easier to quickly come back.”

That injury is likely the cause for his exclusion from the Bafana squad that will face Nigeria – next Saturday at FNB Stadium – in their penultimate Afcon qualifier. But according to Morena, his previous call-up serves as a source of motivation to continue his hard work.

Since his move from Bloemfontein Celtic during the start of the 2016-17 campaign, Morena has enjoyed success at the Brazilians’ in the Caf Super Cup and last season’s league title triumph.

“Under coach Ernst Middendorp at Celtic, I played as a right-back,” Morena said.

“However, coming to Sundowns and playing as a wing-back shows that I can play and adapt in various positions. I knew (coming here) I’d be able to face whatever situation, but I’ll have to work hard.”

Being a Siwelele academy product, Morena is hoping that there’ll be an immediate solution to the club’s financial woes. Celtic are bankrupt and the club has been put up for sale.