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By Katlego Modiba

Football Journalist

Mnguni defends Mokwena following loss to Pirates

'Sundowns played very well while traveling week in and week out but they were still on top of their game,' Mnguni said on Radio 2000.

Mamelodi Sundowns legend Bennett Mnguni has come to the defence of Rulani Mokwena following the defeat to the Orlando Pirates in the Nedbank Cup final on Saturday at Mbombela Stadium.

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Despite the Brazilians’ record-breaking season on their way to claiming a seventh successive DStv Premiership, a small fraction of the Sundowns fanbase are not happy with the loss to Pirates.

The criticism was compounded by the fact that the Tshwane giants also crashed out of the Caf Champions League semifinal at the hands of Esperance of Tunisia.

“Some supporters don’t look at things the way I do because Sundowns played very wel. While traveling week in and week out … they were still on top of their game,” Mnguni said on Radio 2000.

“Yes, we shouldn’t have lost this game but it’s football and if you understand it, you know that you win some and you lose some so let’s give Rulani a break. He’s working with more than 30 players and they are all very good. Some of these coaches won’t last because of that.”

Mnguni maintains that defending the domestic league trophy and lifting the African Football League was a success for Sundowns, who also qualified for the 2025 FIFA Club World Cup in the United States.

‘We need to thank Rulani and the players’

“They achieved a lot. I don’t think in the next ten years any club will go to the Club World Cup and we need to thank Rulani and the players for that. It was a successful season compared to other teams that are playing in the same league with us, who would like to achieve what Sundowns achieved,” he argued.

“The coach did well and we need to thank him for that. I can understand he needs a (off-season) break because he’s working with big players. Each and every game was like a cup final and they didn’t lose even when the pressure was there and it kept piling up and they survived it until the last game.

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“They lost this game but Pirates are a big team. When you play Pirates, you don’t give them space and Sundowns started giving them space. They have quick players and you need to close the space but they gave them too much time in the middle.”