We know that we will also have the yellow nation behind us – Coach Rulani Mokwena

Mamelodi Sundowns left Casablanca with a goalless draw in the CAF Champions League first leg when they kicked horns with Wydad AC on Saturday night. The Brazilians were reduced to ten men at the brink of half time when Neo Maema was issued a red card for a foul, later in the second half Marcelo Allende also picked up a red card as the end was nearing the end. Speaking at the press conference after the clash, Downs Head Coach Rulani Mokwena didn’t hold back from praising his troops for holding onto a clean sheet and denying the Red Castle goal opportunities.

“I thought before the red card we were very good, we [even] scored and there were moments where we had 65% ball possession. I think we were excellent and that’s why I give so much praise and plaudits to the players. We keep our feet firmly on the ground and still focus on the second leg in Pretoria, we know that we will also have the yellow nation behind us.”

“After the red card the game became completely different, we had to adapt, but congratulations to this group of players for their magnificent effort and performance today under very, very difficult circumstances.”

“The players are now gaining more experience playing these difficult matches and we trust them to be able to continue to be at service and to give the best that they can. Under the circumstances, emotionally it feels like a victory, but I am the first to say that it’s only half time and now we’ve got to focus on a difficult return leg.”

The Tshwane giants were crowned Champions of the CAF Champions League for the first time in 2016 when they brushed aside Zamalek with a 3-1 aggregate win. Masandawana have been convincing in their quest to reach yet another final and get a shot at claiming Africa’s top honor, however Coach Rulani remains cautious of his opponents heading into the second round at home.

“It’s the Champions league against the defending champions. We still have to play another 90 minutes [in Pretoria]. I am just very proud of the players for a gallant performance, incredible discipline, incredible tactical flexibility and adaptation in very difficult circumstances.” Said Coach Rulani.

“There’s a lot of clubs that have won the Champions League more than us. There’s a lot of clubs that have more pressure than us to win the Champions League every single year because they’ve done it more. Wydad are the defending Champions and we just have to keep doing the best that we can. We have to fight, play well and give the best that we can to this football club and enjoy the opportunity because we know that it doesn’t come to everybody.”

The Brazilians host the return leg in Pretoria on Saturday, May 20 at Loftus Versfeld Stadium.

3 Responses
  1. Ronnie Bothma

    Well said coach….my observation too…I believe that we will make the hard work done in Morocco count in Pretoria.

    1. Muzi Kunene

      Our players must be taught that Var is there to pick up the wrong doings that the coach doesn’t see unlike in our Psl where you make a mistake and not penalized because the referee didn’t that infringement.
      I fully agree with Ronnie both red cards were legitimate but the same Var didn’t saw our penalty shout they only replayed that attempt by Mokoena I’m appealing to our President together with referees committee to select Var referees not on the same region as the playing team,yesterday other referee was from Tunisia its totally unfair.
      Let’s finish them at Loftus with a heavy score and I still repeat North Africans are afraid of skillfully players lets dribble them until they get frustrated and commit fouls,Kby forever

  2. Downs4ever

    Proud of the job done by the team.We were too confident and ended up losing the ball cheaply after working very hard to regain the ball.Mbule is our main man in the middle but he needs to stop being fancy in the wrong area.We played like we’re a home team even when we’re one man down they never threatened us that really shows the whole Africa is scared of us and we should use that to our advantage.

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