“You have to be a certain level of team to be able to compete.” – Coach Rulani Mokwena

Mamelodi Sundowns crushed La Passe FC 7-0 in their CAF Champions League opening campaign. It was an afternoon to remember at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Sunday with impressive action from The Brazilians who racked up five goals in the first half and added two more in the second half to sink the four-time Seychelles league champions. Downs Co-Coach Rulani Mokwena gave a rundown of the victory at a media press conference after the encounter, he said:

“Compliments to the opposition, they were worthy opponents [even though] the score line is not a fair reflection of their quality in relation to the competition. It’s a difficult competition and you have to be a certain level of team to be able to compete and get something in these types of games, but you’ve seen how even Bafana Bafana also struggled against the Seychelles, a majority of those players [like Dave] Mussard the goalkeeper, [Assad] Aboudou and Esther [Stan] play there. A couple of players play for [Seychelles] national team, it’s not an easy team to beat [therefore] compliments to our players for a professional performance with a lot of humility, lots of desire to run and try to make amendments, 30 something odd shots at goal today.”

“Football is a game that gives you different tests. Today’s test was more psychological than tactical or technical, but it happens all around the world, Manchester City had to play Copenhagen and we all know the gulf in the difference between the two sides, but they were professional and they scored the goals that mattered. As I said earlier, what’s important in football (and maybe with life in general) is that you are what you repeatedly do as a human being, you try to make sure that every pass is perfect, every movement is perfect and everything that we train is applied on to the pitch and that’s how we train, and because we train like that [then] that’s the performance that we expect week in and week out.”

The 2016 CAF Champions League winners held control of the ball for most of the match and La Passe hardly ever threatened the goal of the hosts. Masandawana have a huge advantage going into the second leg as they will be playing both fixtures in front of their fans at Loftus Versfeld Stadium. To show for their quality and depth in signings, Bafana Ba Style cruised past the opponents without a lone striker, Coach Rulani translated his playing style on the day, he said:

“We don’t always look to play this way, the reality is that when we set up the line up and we look at what we have and what is in the best sort of condition to be able to give us the tactical objectives that we set out, then we try to set up our team in relation to that, and we also base it on the weaknesses of the opposition. But generally football in this present moment in time and also the way that we want to play, is a game that has a lot of fluidity and flexibility, and therefore when have players like Gaston [Sirino], Themba Zwane, Marcelo Allende in your front line you’re [then] accommodating players that can play multiple positions.”

La Passe qualified for this stage of the competition through a bye in the first round and will be hoping to cause an upset when they meet the Tshwane Giants on Friday for the second round, Coach Rulani is determined to do a double on the visitors. “We can’t complain about which opposition and how many rounds [we play], but at the end of the day what’s important it’s about how we apply and prepare ourselves.”

He continued: “Clearly and obviously with the ambition that we have and the desire to go very, very far and in fact [to] challenge for the Champions League this season, we are gonna meet even [more] stern and difficult oppositions than this [and that’s when] the habits must kick in. Habits come from games, training sessions and we always try our best to be at this optimum level where we can always look to give our best on the pitch.”