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Mokwena Owns Up Champions League Exit

  • April 27, 2024
  • 2 min read
Mokwena Owns Up Champions League Exit

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena accepts responsibility for the club’s failure to reach the CAF Champions League final, despite his young age and promising coaching career.

Sundowns exited the competition after a 1-0 defeat in the second leg of their semifinal against ES Esperance at Loftus Stadium on Friday, losing 2-0 on aggregate. This marks the second consecutive year they’ve exited at the same stage, following a similar defeat to Wydad Casablanca last season.

More concerning is their lack of goalscoring form. They failed to find the net against Young Africans in the quarterfinals, only advancing through penalties, and repeated the feat against Esperance in both legs of the semifinals.

“I have been to a lot of failures in my life and that’s why I appreciate success no matter how small it is because I know I’m not guaranteed to succeed,” said Mokwena at the post-match press conference. 

“I have failed so many times. This is also one of those failures, but it is a failure that I’m prepared to take. One of the things I think South Africa football forgets which sometimes South Africa remembers only suites them, is that I’m only 37 years old.  

“And that I’m only on my first year as the head coach of Mamelodi Sundowns. But I have been here as a co-coach for three years and if you count those three years, how many league titles have we won? We won the Nedbank Cup, the MTN8, and we won the continental trophy (AFL). 

“Looking back at my time at Sundowns, I’m incredibly proud and privileged to contribute to this club,” he said. “As I mentioned, this is part of the process. I’m here to serve, along with the rest of the technical team. We do everything we can to help the club succeed. A leader needs to be present, especially during difficult times. I can take a backseat when things are going well, but in bad moments, I need to step up, take responsibility, and shoulder the blame for the Champions League exit.”

Despite the setback, Sundowns still secure a spot in the 2025 FIFA Club World Cup, which will be held in the United States.

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