Coach Rulani Reacts To Hard-Fought Win Over AmaZulu

Mamelodi Sundowns claimed three points in the first league game of the season in a heated battle against AmaZulu FC, picking up from last season’s brilliance in the DStv Premiership at Loftus Versfeld on Friday.

Nothing could separate the two fearless teams as they locked horns in the opening encounter of the new season. Usuthu have become Downs closest competitors in the league and posed a great threat to disrupt the defending Champions parade in defending their title. Masandawana Coach, Rulani Mokwena summarised the opening act as a significant win to the start of the season.

“A lot of work went into preparing for this match. It was a very good collective effort and a big congratulations to our supporters, I think it’s an important victory for them. A big congratulations to the entire group of players for a big fight today, we had to fight very early in the season when we are still trying to work on making sure that we improve certain dynamics within our performance but while we are trying to improve that you still need to win football matches.” Said Coach Rulani.

“The most disappointing is probably in relation to the other half on the other side of the pitch. From [one] side of the pitch, we were very slow, we defended very well, we were extremely disciplined with a lot of good focus and a lot of the action. [However], the other side of the pitch was just out of possession which was good but also in possession to create more chances, to use the ball better and make better decisions.”

AmaZulu defenders were hard at work, making few mistakes in their solid defence to allow little penetration by Sundowns into the box and take shots at their goalkeeper. Masandawana are known for their quick attack and finding spaces to play the ball, however, on this day no spaces seemed to be opening up and Peter Shalulile’s foul in the penalty box minutes before the half time was the only threat at goal Downs came to.

“We don’t complete our attacks and facilitate shots at goal because that’s how you win football matches, to have such a dominant performance with so much possession, creating so many possibilities to have goals and only have one shot at goal is probably something that leaves a sour taste in our mouth.” expressed Coach Rulani.

Bafana Ba Style started the Premier Soccer League season with a win in the highly anticipated MTN 8 Cup competition against Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs and continued the winning momentum with a 1-0 victory against Usuthu. While others may be celebrating the occasions, Coach Rulani says that the team still has more areas to work on before they can settle into the new campaign:

“We are far from where we want to be, we have not hit top gear yet, it’s work in progress and we have to keep on working to improve the fluidity of our game. We are hoping that when we hit match five or six, we are in a good space with regards to our fluidity and our cohesion.”

“We knew that the first games in the season are not going to be as good as we know Sundowns but we are in that space where we have to try and improve, not just in the performances but certain aspects of our performances and try to make sure that the team hits a good level, but the signs are there and the signs are good so far.” Coach Rulani.

The Brazilians Man of the match Rivaldo Coetzee has been the talk of the town with his recent brilliant performances, last season he was nominated in the category for “Midfielder of the Season” in the Premier Soccer League. The young maestro proved that his performance keeps getting better each season with each game after conquering a career threatening injury.

“[Rivaldo] has worked extremely hard to make sure that he is fit and that he stays injury free so that he can play more games and contribute to the success of this team. [He] is a very important player for us, we are just happy that he got his performance to be slightly better than what it was against Kaizer Chiefs.” Coach Rulani said as he complimented the holding midfielder. 

“[He is a] Special talent, special human being also, works hard and is extremely honest and extremely intelligent too. He has a very good football brain too and I think we get to see that every single day in video sessions and in meetings.”

Another rising star in the Masandawana camp is Haashim Domingo. The former Bidvest Wits attacking midfielder stepped up to the heated encounter and was heavily influential in the play that saw a penalty awarded to Downs.

“[Haashim’s] Job is just to continue with the work that he is doing. His got a very good head on his shoulders, he’s got a very good base with regards to his development and from a technical perspective that allows him to have a technically rich profile. He has shown that his got qualities to play here. He has just had to work on a few mental issues and not put too much pressure on himself and try to control the levels of anxiety, because if he does that his shown that his got so much quality and he gives so much for us particularly now that we are without Lebohang Maboe.” said Coach Rulani.

Football in Mzansi has officially returned! In ensuring the health and safety of Mamelodi Sundowns players, coaches, management and the community, coach Rulani shared a basic daily routine that is followed by the Champions in the fight against Covid-19.

“[What] we are doing is daily screening, we work with doctors and our medical department to make sure that there is a questionnaire that they send to each and every single one of our players, we call it a wellness questionnaire and every player has got to fill this in every morning. Based on their submission, we take those up depending on whether there are any symptoms shown or not and fortunately at this moment we’ve had a very good period where the players are taking responsibility.”

Mamelodi Sundowns next encounter is against Chippa United on Tuesday, 24 August at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, kick-off is 17H00.

3 Responses
  1. Downs4ever

    A team like Sundowns with that quality players had only 1 short on target for 94 minutes,something is definitely not right.You just can’t Mvala and Riva at the same time 4 1 simply reason,they are both not creative hence limited scoring chances,besides Mvala’s wrong passes and more than good passes every game.If Mnqithi and Kompela continue to let Mokwena bully them,they will soon find themselves jobless,coz we know that players like Mvala and Mandela are his favourite players.Make no mistake,Mvala is a hard worker but lacks that Downs qualities,it’s pointless to work hard to win the ball and then give it away.Instead of fixing where we lacked last season,we are starting from scratch.Let us not compromise the identity of the team by doing some players favour.If we can revert back to last season game against Leopards ,he got red carded and we won the game without him,same against Stellies,we replaced him by an offensive player during halftime and went on to win the game.He also gets booked every game.He is very good defensively,good high energy,but you can’t expect him to be the link between middle and front.If there’s someone who wants to play taller players he must just go to naturena,that’s where they rely on high balls,at Downs we rely on skill not height,we do things in style hence the name Bafana ba style.This thing of a keeper starting the ball from the back is gonna cost us big time,we’re not Man City.You cannot start a new system at the beginning of the season, we won the league with more games left last season but you didn’t start that system,instead you played same players who started the season until the likes of Zwane got injured,had you started that system last season we would be mastering it by now.One last thing we just can’t be relying on older keepers every game,some games we need to play Goss or Peterse,how do you judge them if you don’t give them a chance to play?

  2. jimmy

    A win is a win take it and run with it Sundowns – our coaches last season were nice and cool sitting down until the end of the game but now on the very first league game one of our coaches is back to his old ways throwing tantrums and all over the place animated . I am so disappointed in him, I was hoping he has learned his lesson .

  3. muzi kunene

    Yes I concur with the above fellow Dawanas,serious our starting line-up for the past two games is boring no flair of Downs football they’re known about and I don’t think our Wisemen changing that so soon the only time they’ll change is when we loose and you could hear the way they praise those players is that they have a big trust in them.
    Downs are know with flair and beautiful football but this season you stayed nervous till the game finished. Shalulile needs a partner upfront a player like Motupa or Kutumela with Zwane behind them,Zwane is not so fast and is holding for the ball too long that’s why Shalulile is found wanting.In middle field Coetze must have a creative partner like Maema or Jali since Maboe is injured but they partner him with Mvala whom is always gets a card and one day we will play with ten men because of Mvala.
    Since the league have started I didn’t see a serious competitor but Our Wisemen will give those teams a hope because of the way they are fielding our team.Kby forever

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