'Success in Africa all in the mind'

Linda Moreotsene

Linda Moreotsene

Henri Michel, the Mamelodi Sundowns coach, says mental strength is key to success in Africa.

In six short months in this country, the well-travelled Michel has carved a reputation for being brutal in his assessment of our football and its shortcomings.

As Downs prepare for their first Confederations Cup match against Mauritian club AS Vacoas Phoenix at the Sir Gaetan Duval Stadium on Sunday, Michel spoke frankly about his expectations and why we should believe that with him in the driver's seat, Downs have a better chance of advancing in this competition.

"The game is not only won on the pitch. In Africa, your mental toughness will determine where you end up. Forget the bad pitch, hotel and food and focus on the job at hand," he said.

Does he think that he has the players to beat the best in Africa?

"If I am completely honest, I would have to say that right now, we have many limitations that prevent us from successfully competing with the best in Africa.

"At our club, for instance, we have to improve the number of goals we score. We also do not have a player that consistently provides assists."

Michel has seen it all as coach of African countries like Cameroon and Egyptian club Zamalek.

Against the unknown Mauritians - Michel said he had only found out recently that Mauritius was part of Africa - Downs are unlikely to disgrace themselves, but Michel feels that "whatever level of the opponent, you must respect them".

"It is simple, you give 100 percent and you do not concede. Then you hopefully score a goal."

Downs will take 20 players with them but Matthew Booth, Thuso Phala, Diyo Sibisi and James Mayinga, who are all not registered for this competition, will not make the trip.