Mamelodi Sundowns battled out a hard-fought goalless draw against Al Merrikh SC in the CAF Champions League group stages Masandawana produced a dominant performance in a keenly contested group A Champions League match number two at the Al Salam Stadium on Saturday afternoon, however their dominance on the ball resulted in no goals scored after 90 minutes of play. Downs Co-Coach Rulani Mokwena described the encounter in a post match conference held in Cairo:
“I suppose it was a game of 2 halves, the first half we played exceptionally well, extremely dominant and created a lot of chances and had six big chances. [The opposition] created opportunities from our carelessness from the ball, and they caught us on the counter attack, the one that Brian Onyango cleared off the line was a big chance but it came from our situation in having a set piece and turning over the ball. To be honest, [we were] very stable, too much control and we didn’t feel like we were in trouble, for most parts of the second half, I think technically and tactically we were very good.”
The Brazilians secured three points in their opening contest a week ago and currently top the log table with four points in their group standings. In a game where Bafana Ba Style stamped authority, Coach Rulani shared the objectives of the team and expressed enthusiasm on the team’s ability to be successful in their campaign. Another clash in Egypt awaits the Tshwane giants as they come face to face with the reigning Champions League title holders that knocked them out of their journey in their campaign last year.
“We will have to fight for the other points from Al Hilal and Al Merrikh, and we’ve gotta give them the same amount of respect that you would give in terms of the preparations and attention to detail that you would give to Al-Ahly. Everyone was disappointed when we only beat Al-Hilal 1-0, but if you look at the Al-Ahly game against Al-Hilal, when they draw you realize how important it was to win that match and we cannot be blinded by playing the name instead of playing the matches. We’ve got matches to play and certain objectives to reach, and we know that the first objective is to qualify from the group and be in the knockouts.”
He continued and said: “To be in the knockouts means that we play every single match, including today’s match. Before we even speak about Al-Ahly and the next match we focus on trying to analyse the previous match, and try to see why we could not win it and then try to train and improve. In South Africa when we kept saying that we are still a team that is working very hard to get better, people were thinking that we were being modest and humble, but that was just the reality, when people see the performances now and they see where we are, people try to make a lot of noise about it.”
After a handful of half chances created, Namibian international Peter Shalulile was caught offside, unable to score for Masandawana as expected by many due to his goal scoring reputation.
“It’s only a matter of time before Peter scores, we know his qualities, we know what he gives to the team [and] it’s not just about putting the ball into the back of the net, what he gives to the team goes beyond just that final action in and around the box. He’s responsible like all our other strikers to help us to start defending from the top, to help us with starting to create those possibilities for penetrative moments and as long as he keeps doing that, then we are content.” Said Coach Rulani.