October 23, 2021

Mokwena: How Bafana Bafana’s defeat against Sudan impacts Mamelodi Sundowns in Caf Champions League

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The Brazilians had five players who were part of the national team which suffered agony in Omdurman last Sunday

Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Rhulani Mokwena has admitted that Bafana Bafana’s 2-0 defeat by Sudan has left them “emotionally not in the right space” with “egos bruised” but that will not drive them to seek revenge in Friday’s Caf Champions League Group B clash against Al Hilal Omdurman.

South Africa were denied a spot at the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations by Sudan at Al Hilal Stadium last Sunday, the same venue Sundowns will be playing on Friday.

Al Hilal had seven players in the starting line-up that beat Bafana Bafana including scorer of Sudan’s second goal Mohamed Abdelrahman. 

Having earlier on said that “we have to do what is best and represent the nation and salvage a little bit of pride,” Mokwena appears to have backtracked, saying they will not vent the anger of Bafana’s Afcon failure on Al Hilal.

“The difficulty in trying to play in that perspective is you have a negative drive. You are motivated and inspired by things that have happened in the past and at times it is not the right sort of way to approach matches,” Mokwena told the media.

“Revenge is not a word that exists in our vocabulary as Mamelodi Sundowns. We are inspired by the goals, aspirations and targets we have set for ourselves. The unfortunate result for our national team has nothing to do with Mamelodi Sundowns although of course being from South Africa we are emotionally not in the right space.

“Our egos are slightly bruised and the happiness index within our country is affected. We therefore have an indirect responsibility to try and influence the atmosphere back home and to carry the hopes and dreams of our country and our football nation. But we are not driven by that. We are driven by trying to reach our targets, to make sure we get into the knockout stage with a very good momentum of winning games and winning away matches.”

Sundowns have already qualified for the Champions League quarter-finals with two matches to spare after winning all their four group games so far.

They have also recorded victory in all their games away from home, first beating CR Belouizdad 5-1 before edging Tout Puissant Mazembe 2-1 and in the process ending the hosts’ 74-match unbeaten record in Lubumbashi in the Champions League.

“This being our last away match we want to get into the knockout stage with the feeling of knowing how to win away football matches because experience tells us that it is very difficult to win away in the Champions League. It is very important to get into the knockout round with a very good run of form so that we have the right confidence going into that stage,” said Mokwena.

After the Al Hilal match, Sundowns conclude their group campaign by hosting Belouizdad on April 9.