“We take a 3-0 advantage into the game,” says Mario Booysen ahead of Saturday’s second leg of the CAF Confederation Cup’s first round fixture against Elgeco Plus in Madagascar. “It’s crucial to get an away goal. However, as always, we will go into the match to win.”
The Kaizer Chiefs squad travelled on Friday morning to Madagascar to face Elgeco Plus at the Stade Municipal de Mahamasina in Antananarivo on Saturday, 22 December.
Booysen played in February 2017 with SuperSport United against the club from Madagascar in the preliminary round of the CAF Confederation Cup, booking a 2-1 home win. The centre-back didn’t play in the first leg on the road, but he does remember that there were about 15 000 to 20 000 spectators watching the match in Madagascar.
“They have a very vocal crowd,” he remembers, “which will give them a boost. They are a tough side, but we will be ready.”
Booysen joined Amakhosi in August from Ajax Cape Town. “The last four months have been a good experience,” he reflects. “To be honest, my performances have been a bit up and down and especially my first Soweto Derby in October was tough.
“I could have done better since joining Chiefs, but I have learnt a lot – I have grown as a person and as a player. I have settled, and it’s now all about consistency. I am looking forward to 2019.”
Talking about consistency, the 30-year-old admits that it hasn’t been easy to have had a variety of partners in the centre of defence. “It’s all about getting the right combination and getting game time together, so we can build an understanding,” he remarks.
Booysen speaks highly about coach Ernst Middendorp, with whom he worked previously at Maritzburg United. “He knows what he wants. He’s a very ambitious coach and knows how to keep a group together. We, as players, understand what the coach wants, and he will help us grow as a team.
“Middendorp has brought stability, which we can already see from the recent two wins since taking over. We play very offensive football, looking to score goals and that has helped to get results.”
After the match against Elgeco Plus in Madagascar, Booysen plans to fly to Cape Town to be with his family in Charlesville for a few days during the festive season. “I will take it easy and relax a bit, pushing the refresh button to be ready for the game against Mamelodi Sundowns on 5 January.”
However, first there is still a game to play against Elgeco Plus. Kick-off is at 13:30, South African time.