“We have to win football matches and when we don’t win, we have to see why we didn’t win.” – Coach Rulani Mokwena.

Mamelodi Sundowns fell to Stellenbosch in the Nedbank Cup by a score of 2-1 on Saturday evening at Athlone Stadium. Masandawana started strongly, taking the lead in the first half through Aubrey Modiba’s strike that was eventually put at the back of the net by the Stellies keeper. The home team found their way back into the battle when Iqraam Rayners netted a brace from two defensive errors in Downs’ half, Head Coach Rulani Mokwena suggested that the home side deserved their win and made use of the opportunities they had.

“I thought we lost a lot of the duels, and it’s just been very difficult to find a bit of rhythm in our passes. They forced us into mistakes and we made two big mistakes, they punished us. Today we didn’t have the rhythm and this competitive intensity, but we’ll get it right. I am very proud of the players, what they have done this season has been incredible and as I have said so many times, despite the pressures, despite how difficult it is, it’s very tough at the moment. We play against every opponent who has time to prepare for us and we only have one or two days to prepare for an opponent physically.”

“Opponents only play one game per week, of course the element of freshness comes in and you could see it in certain moments today. Tactically they had time to review and come up with plans and solutions, and you can see it also with all the oppositions that we’ve played so far. But it’s not for us to find excuses, there’s no excuses, we have to win football matches and when we don’t win, we have to see why we didn’t win. In moments that are a little bit like this, you think if the opponent is better, you take the defeat and you move.”

The Brazilians are widely known for their goal scoring abilities and winning attitude in the domestic league, however the Tshwane giants have only won one game this month and recorded three consecutive draws before heading into the Nedbank Cup clash. Downs Head Coach, Rulani expressed the foreign atmosphere that has entered into the team, he said: “It’s a feeling we don’t want to get used to. It’s a feeling that doesn’t sit well with us but okay, it’s part of the game and it’s part of football, you win, lose or draw.”

“We lost a very important game, a game that we knew we could not lose but that’s the life of big teams and we have to get used to it. What I will echo, not a lot of credit is given to this team for the amount of work that they’ve done, and for being clearly (in my opinion and maybe for them it’s enough) the best team in the league. And when you hear opposition coaches who also have a competitive streak in themselves, saying that clearly they’re the second best team in the country, it is because Sundowns is the benchmark and by far the best team in the country, but that’s not good enough, you’re only as good as your last performance in football.”

“We’ve got to prove every single day, every single training session and every single match that we are the best team in the country and that means we have the responsibility and the pressure of playing under that mark with that tag behind us. It’s not easy, it’s the hardest thing but it’s the best thing to give you the competitive urge. Unfortunately we didn’t have that today and we lost to a better side on the day.”

Masandawana recently retained their DStv Premiership title for a record six times in a row, the earliest title win in PSL history with seven games in the league still left to play. Throughout the season, Bafana Ba Style have been incredible and have completed a record-breaking winning streak of 15 games and could still go on to set new records for themselves. Coach Rulani clarified how difficult it is to win the league, he said:

“The hard one always is the league, that’s a competition where you have to be consistent to win it. It’s not always the best team that wins the cup, sometimes you need the rub of the green to be able to get the results and I feel like today, even though I thought they were better than us, they had more luck than us.” Said Coach Rulani.

“We had a couple of shouts from the first half, that offside call for Peter [Shalulile] was marginally offside, if offside at all. Very, very close incidents for penalty shouts for us in the second half with the hand ball but it doesn’t fall on our side, these things happen in football. I’ve never spoken about the referees and I will never do it now, because when we win I say nothing about the referees, and so when we lose I can not make them responsible and start talking about them, but this is the situation and this is what happened.”

7 Responses
  1. Skhumba

    Your team selection is biased coach!! Mvala cannot play ahead of Rushine! Even that Morroccan guy can play ahead of your favorite Mvala!! Sipho deserved to come in earlier in this game because your Zwane was battling with his game!! You always play Mudau ahead of Morena for no apparent reason, yet his (Mudau) final pass/cross is always disappointing!! Thus why Broos refused to select for Bafana and instead selected Morena ahead of him!! A fit Mashego can do better than your favorite son in the left back position!! You over select your relative Tebogo Mokoena in that central defensive position ahead of other central middle fielders yet he does very to justify his selection.

  2. Muzi Kunene

    Guys Rhulani is too arrogant we can say whatever and give them options but come match day he will select his favorites like Zwane,Mudau,Modiba and Mvala.
    Maybe if our supporters at the end of the game can boo them instead of singing he will wake up,Kapinga is a very good player together with Rhalani they can unlock any stubborn defence but they always on grandstand waiting to come after game and sing as if we signed them only to sing,also Maboe is good.
    Our Management is soft on Rhulani why are they keep on paying players that are not on coach’s plan instead of releasing them,Zeane and Sirino are not strikers but he partnered them with Shalulile and in Algeria he will go for draw hoping to win at home as if playing at home is guaranteed you a win nomakanjani.
    I don’t want to repeat the words of Alton Meiring about Rhulani for now let me wait and see because even Meiring was poor Westerhof once said about him “he will not even dribble a tree”
    Goodluck in Algeria but I’m little afraid,Kby forever

  3. Muzi Kunene

    Let’s recall our loanee striker from Chippa Ighadaro next season we can’t rely on Mailula alone to help Shalulile but I doubt with arrogance of Rhulani he’ll be loaned again and depend on Zwane to partner Shalulile.
    What happened to the defenders we have players like Lebusa,B.Onyango,De Reuck and Mohamme hope I pronounce his surname correctly.


    We are not complaining because the team lost but because of team selection and performance,if you check the comments after Arrows game we complimented the team even though they did not win but we loved the hunger and fighting spirit.You can check on how Bafana conceded the first goal in a 2 all draw against Liberia,a simple slow pass to Mvala alone all of a sudden the ball ball is rolling out ,instead of leaving it he put it on the path of a Leberian player,the rest is history.What has Morena done to be treated like that,when his only mistake is to make a team win,last season in the champions league he was our top scorer in the group stages,come knockout stages he is on the bench and he also made us win Nedbank cup.This season he scores an equalizing goal in Egypt,next game he is on the bench when the likes of Mvala are rewarded for making unnecessary penalty.Williams will never pass Mvala the ball even if he is free because he knows his flaws which the coach can’t see.It is either we have poor analysts or a coach ignores their findings .Modiba is not good defensively but offensively,on Yesterday it was only him and Allende who were propelling the team forward. Coach you need to guts to replace the under performing players during the first half rather than wait for a minute 75 like as if is written in the book.You just cannot be raddled by 3 draws when you have already won the league. Fix the team before we fly to Algeria.

  5. Luvuyo pomolo

    I agree team selection is what is killing our performance and its clear the coach cannot motivate these players anymore. Then are the assistant coaches ball boys

  6. Ronnie Bothma

    I disagree that the selection had anything to do with our loss…nor was it tactics…so the technical team is not to blame…individual errors cost the team the game…cross-field passes are suicidal and every player knows that…pressure causes mistakes…Stellies put pressure on our defense and hence the mistakes. Losing games is normal…no one has the God given right to win all games…our fellow supporters are just more upset cause it’s a knockout competition. Supporters are pointing out who should be playing and who shouldn’t…isn’t that being bias?(favoritism). But we blame Rhulani for favoritism. At least Rhulani gets to see the players at training…but we want to make a call on who plays without the privilege of seeing the players throughout the week…I understand that we are spoilt due to the team winning almost every time….but let’s accept defeats when they come…just like accept the victories. It is not possible to win every single time.

  7. Sbedula

    Sure masandawana, I can see we not used to losing games and is because our players plays good football & winning matches is a habit. I would like to second Ronie individuals errors cost us the game and since we won the league the commitment dropped from our players. they need to change their attitude towards games starting from the one we playing this weekend in Algeria and that aggression we know we want to see it this weekend, we love them and we will always love them.

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