Rhulani Mokwena's Mamelodi Sundowns not resting on their laurels despite convincing AFL semi win

Rhulani Mokwena says his team can’t be complacent with their 2-0 lead over Petro de Luanda. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Rhulani Mokwena says his team can’t be complacent with their 2-0 lead over Petro de Luanda. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Published Oct 23, 2023


After successive Cup failures in domestic competition, PSL giants Mamelodi Sundowns rose like a colossus in Angola to claim a convincing win in their opening African Football League fixture.

Sundowns entered the AFL quarter-final first-leg clash in Luanda on Saturday on the back of defeats to TS Galaxy (Carling Knockout last 16) and Orlando Pirates (MTN8 final) after failing in penalty shoot-outs.

On Saturday, Sundowns ran out 2-0 winners against Petro de Luanda, but coach Rhulani Mokwena, in his post-match conference, played down his team’s advantage ahead of tomorrow’s second leg at Loftus.

Mokwena assured the media that the scoreline did not guarantee his team a place in the semi-finals.

“No, we are not in the semifinals. You have seen many things happen in football. You have seen teams come back from even greater scorelines,” said Mokwena.

“We look forward to taking this scoreline to South Africa, but we approach it as 0-0 and a different ball game.

“My message to the players is to remind them about a game (against TS Galaxy) we played a few days ago in a Cup match in South Africa. At halftime, we were 2-0 down but we came back in the second half to make it 2-2. For me, this is the halftime score after 90 minutes.

“It is important for us to stay humble and stay very focused. We respect our opponents and the quality they have. We play the game and not the scoreline.”

On Saturday, the local Angolan media did not fail to mention that Angolan heavyweights Petro de Luanda knocked Sundowns out of the Caf Champions League in the 2022 quarter-finals. Mokwena did not entertain any talk of revenge.

“I can answer that from a personal perspective as the leader of the group, I am not a person who speaks about revenge, it comes from a very dark place,” said Mokwena.

“I never use the word revenge and never does my heart have those types of intentions. I like to live life as an optimist with good energy and positivity.

“The word revenge, because it comes from a dark place, does not exist for me.”

Overall, Petro de Luanda had the better of the exchanges and had they taken their chances early on, the outcome might have been different. Mokwena heaped generous praise on the Angolan team afterwards.

“We beat a very, very good side with very good organisational forms, very difficult to deal with the overloads they create,” said Mokwena.

“The first half was not so good for us. We struggled a little bit, but produced a fantastic second half. I offer incredible compliments to the group of players for adapting and for an incredible performance throughout.”

The winners of the inaugural

AFL will take home a staggering R75million cheque.