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By Katlego Modiba

Football Journalist

Mokwena – How many times do you see Esperance park the bus at home?

'I don't agree that Esperance tactically won,' said the Sundowns head coach.

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena disagreed with the Tunisian media’s assertion that Esperance tactically outsmarted them during the first leg of their Caf Champions League semifinal. 

The Brazilians lost 1-0 on Saturday night at Stade Olympique Hammadi Agrebi to the Blood and Gold, who withstood pressure in the second half to win the match. Mokwena and his charges will have to produce an even better performance in Friday’s second leg at Loftus Versfeld in their quest to reach the final.

“I don’t agree that Esperance tactically won. No, I fully disagree. I think in football there are two important things during the 90 minutes,” Mokwena argued in the post-match press conference. 

“The first thing is, how many chances are you able to create and who created the most chances today? Please that’s a question you must answer, who created the most chances between Sundowns and Esperance? Did we concede more chances to them or did Esperance concede more chances? How do you defend well if you give away more chances than the opposition? 

“Maybe I’ve got a different perspective of how I analyse football. When you defend well, you must not give away chances. I don’t agree with that statement and I have to defend my team sorry.”

Mokwena did, however, concede that maybe the North Africans were more clinical in front of goal after the solitary strike gave them the advantage ahead of the return match in Tshwane.

“Efficiency is not performance and tactics so you can talk about efficiency and maybe you’re right because if you create one chance and you score, you’re efficient,” he said before questioning the approach by Esperance.

“So that is a completely different discussion that we can have. I’d like to ask you guys, as the Tunisian media, how many times do you see Esperance park the bus at home? 

“Are you guys happy to see one of the biggest teams in this country playing against Mamelodi Sundowns parking the bus? If you guys are happy with that, then there’s no problem with me. You can praise Esperance without degrading the performance of Sundowns because it’s possible to do that.”

‘Almost ready’

Sundowns missed influential midfielder and Bafana Bafana star Teboho Mokoena who is carrying a slight hamstring injury. 

“Teboho Mokoena was almost ready but we didn’t want to take the risk because of the schedule that we have going forward but we will see how it goes,” the 37-year-old coach concluded.

“I think with a lot of humility, it’s half time because the game is over two legs. Let’s start off by congratulating Esperance and let me also congratulate Sundowns because I’m extremely proud of the effort of my players.”