Mamelodi Sundowns have secured the second semi-final spot in the African Football League, following a goalless draw against Angolan side, Petro de Luanda. The Brazilians walked into the second leg with a comfortable 2-0 advantage, with goals from Marcelo Allende and Thapelo Maseko.
Coach Rulani Mokwena reviewed the clash between the two sides, commending their counterparts for a good game and pointing out the players who stood out for him.
“It was a difficult game against a very good opponent, I have already mentioned how good they are. They have a team that is very capable of building from the back. They have three centre backs; Kinito (Joaquim Balanga), Pedro Pinto and Ignatius Miguel, who are very aggressive with the ball and it’s very difficult to take the ball away from them. When you have a player like William Soares da Silva also in the midfield who sits as a pivot and connects the lines, it becomes very difficult. Pedro Miguel was missing but they have got so much quality with him and Carlinhos,” he said.
Coach Rulani continued and showered his side with praises for giving their all on what was a difficult encounter.
“We did very well and I am proud of the players. They got a red card in the first minute, which complicated the game, but the boys showed good courage, good spirit and a sense of brotherhood. I want to congratulate and appreciate them for their efforts and putting the team through to the semi-finals of the competition.”
Bafana Ba Style had to play 88 minutes with one man down, following a dangerous tackle from Mothobi Mvala, which led to him receiving marching orders from the referee. Coach Rulani applauded the team for their game management even after losing one man, as well as walking away with a clean sheet.
“We had to adjust because we had to deal with the game. When I say we try to be chameleons, it’s exactly that. This season we tried to adapt to the demands of the game and answer the questions. We adapted the formation a little bit to suit the personnel we had on the pitch, but also to accommodate the man down and try to give them a numerical advantage in areas we knew they could not hurt us. Huge compliments to the players for their adaptation, tactical flexibility, and ability to adhere to tactics and see the game through,” he stated.
The Pretoria-based side has played a lot of important games without key players due to injuries. The Downs Head Coach shared that he would like to see the players back playing, especially with the upcoming encounters.
“I pray every night for God to perform a miracle. My prayer to Him is to bring back Lucas Ribeiro, Peter Shalulile and Thapelo Morena as soon as possible, because they make a big difference but we have to give compliments to the rest of the players who have come in and shown that we can count on them.”
Having advanced to the semi-finals of the African Football league, the fixture has presented Al Ahly as the opponent. The first leg will see Sundowns hosting the Egyptian side on Sunday. Coach Rulani concluded by stating that he looks forward to what will be an interesting and entertaining encounter against the Club of Patriotism.
“An Al Ahly fixture is always interesting. They have got really good players. I have watched a little bit on their away game in Tanzania where they drew 2-2 against Simba FC. It should be an interesting game and one that pitches two very good teams. We will do our best to try to win the game,” he concluded.