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Weary Sundowns happy for two days off with their families over New Year

Mamelodi Sundowns goal stopper Denis Onyango.
Mamelodi Sundowns goal stopper Denis Onyango.
Image: BackpagePix/ Deryck Foster

Mamelodi Sundowns’ players intend to make the most of a rare two days off over New Year, and will spend some much-needed quality face time with their families, goalkeeper Denis Onyango has said.

While other teams have enjoyed a break over Christmas, Sundowns, as is the club’s predicament given their constant continental ambitions, had no such luxury.

South Africa’s two remaining continental challengers played through over Christmas. Sundowns went a long way towards clinching a quarterfinal place in the 2019-20 Caf Champions League beating USM Alger away on Saturday night. Wits were held to a 0-0 draw at home by Libya’s Al Nasr in the Confederation Cup on Sunday.

Sundowns, in second place in the Absa Premiership by seven points to leaders Kaizer Chiefs, return to league action against AmaZulu at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday (kickoff 8.15pm).

Downs’ players have been given two days off over New Year – on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Of course, it hasn’t been easy for us. The last four/five weeks we’ve been on the road,” Onyango said.

“We played the Telkom Knockout final [against Maritzburg United in Durban] and then played Wits away from home, played Polokwane City one game at home and then we were back in camp for the Champions League.

“So it’s very important for us to see our families, because again we are going to travel away from home – to Durban.

“So the little bit of time we get with our families on the 31st and the 1st, me must share it with them. And we move on. We have to soldier on.

“It’s never easy to stay away from the family because these are the people who we work for. But thank God they understand our schedule, and they know what we are fighting for.

“That’s why when we go on the pitch we give 100 percent. Because there’s no use staying away from your family and don’t give 100 percent in the game.

“Then you would be cheating them and cheating yourself. So it’s very important for us to stay with the family for these two days.

“And, yeah, then we keep grinding, because the families are the ones who drive us.”

Sundowns – who have a trophy already in 2019-20, having beaten Maritzburg 2-1 in the Telkom final – opened a two-point lead in Champions League Group C over bitter rivals Wydad Casablanca with their win in Algeria.