We have to work very hard with the preparations for that match – Coach Rulani Mokwena

Mamelodi Sundowns will face defending champions Wydad Casablanca in the Total Energies CAF Champions League semi-final clash after sealing a 6-2 aggregate victory against CR Belouizdad of Algeria. The visitors headed home from corner-kick and took the lead through their captain Sofiane Bouchar, Masandawana went on to score two more goals in the encounter through Themba Zwane in the first half and Thapelo Morena in the second half. 

“In the first half before they scored we were closer to scoring than they were, and I thought we were in control. The only disappointment of the first half was the extra five minutes after they scored, I think emotionally we were rattled a little bit, and we continued to play and play. Fortunately we didn’t bleed a lot around the box, because if you bleed around the box against the North African side they get free kicks, corner kicks and then they smell blood and then they go for the second and that could’ve complicated issues, but after that I think we then stabilized ourselves again.” Masandawana’s Head Coach, Rulani Mokwena expressed his thoughts on the encounter at Loftus.

“We showed very good leadership, the senior players took charge of the game again and then a very good goal from Mshishi. At half time we had to talk about a couple of things and make a few tweaks in our build up. Two or three steps from [Abdel Boutouil] AB meant two or three steps from [Aubrey] Modiba and then it meant two or three steps for [Sipho] Mbule. Once you can get that then you’ve got very good rest defense and very good possibilities for retaining possession and then you can defend a lot better.”

The Brazilians were knocked out of the Nedbank Cup quarterfinals before heading into their first leg of the continental battle with Belouizdad, an unusual occurrence for the Tshwane giants and their abilities to conquer Africa was questioned by the fans. Coach Rulani, who received admiration for his work along with his troops from the opposition sides, indicated the mental strength that comes with being a Champion and how the team deals with both the compliments and criticism that come their way.

“A couple of weeks ago we lost to [Stellenbosch] Stellies and we were the worst team, I was the worst Coach. This is football, you have to take the good moments just like you take the bad moments, not too high in the good moments, not too low on the bad moments. We have a 24-hour rule so we will enjoy the game, the feeling and then get rest and tomorrow we come in to clean the game from the system and we prepare for a very difficult match against AmaZulu.”

The Brazilians Coach also indicated that they will start preparing for their battle in Casablanca after their domestic league encounter with Usuthu, “The work will begin immediately as we get closer to it because a lot of work was done for this game. A lot of work is now going to be put into AmaZulu, a very very difficult match and opponent. It will be difficult in KZN for sure [therefore] we have to work very hard with the preparations for that match.”

Mamelodi Sundowns get back in action on Wednesday, May 3, when they travel to Princess Magogo Stadium to face AmaZulu in the DStv Premiership.