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Mokwena: Sundowns’ Lack Of Experience In Champions League Cost Us

  • April 26, 2024
  • 2 min read
Mokwena: Sundowns’ Lack Of Experience In  Champions League Cost Us

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena conceded his team’s inexperience in the CAF Champions League after their 2-0 aggregate defeat to ES Esperance.

The Tunisians secured a 1-0 victory at Loftus Stadium on Friday night, adding to their first-leg win.

Sundowns had numerous chances to overturn the deficit, with Peter Shalulile particularly wasteful. The striker, usually a reliable scorer, missed two close-range opportunities, including a glaring header in the first half. Substitute Aubrey Modiba also came close with a powerful long-range shot that rattled the crossbar.

Mokwena acknowledged the gap in experience between Sundowns and Esperance, who boast four Champions League titles compared to Sundowns’ sole victory in 2016.

“We have to just keep going,” said Mokwena to the SABC after the game, 

“How many semifinals have they played in the final 10 years? Maybe four. So, we have to just keep on going, keep going, keep going. Teams like Esperance have played five, six, seven maybe in the continental semifinals in a row.  

“We just have to keep going. You get better with experience, and you can see they suffered well, they take their time. People will praise their effort and say it was tactical masterclass, I think we were tactically superior to them.”  

Despite the defeat, Mokwena praised his team’s defensive performance and effort on the night.

“I thought defensively we were good. I thought offensively we were good,” said Mokwena, who led Sundowns to the African Football League in November.  

“The goal we went to sleep and then you created more chances and I think we could have played for another 90 minutes today I don’t think we could have scored.”

While his focus was on the missed opportunities, Mokwena did acknowledge the positives. “I want to thank the players for their effort and for representing the club with pride,” he concluded.

On a brighter note, Sundowns secured a spot in the 2025 FIFA Club World Cup because of CAF Rankings pathway due to TP Mazembe’s loss to Al Ahly in the other semi-final. The Champions League final will be an all-North African affair, with Ahly facing Esperance in a two-legged tie on 18-25 May.

Picture courtesy of CAF

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