Neo Maema coming out of his shell after “introduction” season

Neo Maema coming out of his shell after “introduction” season

Mamelodi Sundowns attacking midfielder Neo Maema looks back at his debut season at the club as an introduction phase allowing him to come out of his shell.

Now part of the core squad hoping to rewrite history and win this year’s CAF Champions League title, the former Bloemfontein Celtic star reflects on the lessons. 

Maema is a regular these days instead of being a super-sub. 

"For me, it was my first season at the club and in the Champions League, so it was more about integrating because I was still being used as someone that came off the bench a lot in the season," said Maema.

"So, it was for me to push myself out and I would actually see it as an introduction to the Champions League, so this season I've actually tried to make sure I'm in the starting line-up.

"I've pushed myself to be a starter and to feature more minutes in more games, so basically it's my first [season], and that's the difference, actually, between last season and this season for me."

Sundowns host CR Belouizdad tomorrow at Loftus Stadium holding a 4-1 advantage from the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinal tie last week. 

"It's a very difficult match, they are a good team, to be honest, and they wouldn't have made the quarterfinals if they weren't a good team," he added.

"It's just [for us] to forget about the first leg. We also thought we had an advantage last year, and then it's a pity that football doesn't actually linger on the past, it's a new day and a new game. 

"We're looking forward to it and we'll make sure that we do our end of the bargain."