Three crucial points to qualify — Rulani Mokwena

Three crucial points to qualify — Rulani Mokwena

On Saturday at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in the CAF Champions League, Mamelodi Sundowns secured a crucial three points. The Brazilians barely defeated Al Hilal in their first Group B match thanks to a goal from Cassius Mailula in the first half. In a news conference following the game, the head coach of the Yellow Nation, Rulani Mokwena, began by praising his opponents and outlining the performance from his team.

Al Hilal has players with a lot of experience. You can see [Ousmane] Diouf, Ahmed, and the captain [Mohamed] Yagoub], all of them are excellent athletes and have a lot of experience. [Anas] Saeed is incredibly skilled, quick, and aggressive. They have a very talented squad, Abdul Ajagun [is] excellent and has PSL playing experience; he is familiar with our players, and Gerald Phiri also entered the game. Coach Rulani said.

They obviously have a very capable coach in that position, but we performed well today as well. Aside from the difficulty of the field, I felt we were excellent. Particularly when we had the ball. Three crucial points in the group stage, congratulations to the squad. Because it means so much to the team, this victory means a lot to me.

“I join them in their joy and experience it with them. Three points are crucial for the football team because they put us in the running for qualification and get us closer to it. This proves that we are capable of competing; all we need to do is be consistent, work hard, and ensure that we can improve.

Masandawana had fifteen efforts at goal and a 63% ball possession at the conclusion of the game, compared to the Blues’ six attempts and a 37% ball possession. Coach Rulani stated he was still pleased of the players even though they had the chance to score more than one goal. He added:

“The first goal is to get three points; the second is to go as near to 10 as you can. The lowest amount of points to emerge from the group stages historically has been 4, but we want to strive to go as near to 10 points as we can because it pretty much ensures you a spot in the knockout phases, so three points regardless of the result is extremely crucial [and] a clean sheet.

“I believe we scored a pretty fantastic goal for the second one, but unfortunately it was called offside,” the player said. Even though we sometimes had some nervousness, there were times when we played the game really well and were at ease. Despite a few missed passes, I felt the guys were excellent today and put in a lot of effort. We could have scored more goals and created more scoring opportunities tonight against a team that was extremely threatening on the counterattack. We were steadfast and didn’t give ourselves many opportunities.

Through their talented young player Mailula, who scored a great goal in the 47th minute, Downs almost increased their lead. However, an offside ruling was made. Coach Rulani expressed satisfaction with the final score and mentioned the importance of the video assistant referee in the competition’s knockout rounds.

“I am really happy with the performance today, but we know that VAR will enter the quarterfinals and that will help. Apart from that goal, I felt today’s effort was excellent, and I believe we earned all three points.

»Three crucial points to qualify — Rulani Mokwena«

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