Mokwena praises his ‘chameleon’ Sundowns team
'It adapts and changes colours depending on the surroundings and that's the type of team we are trying to become,' said the Sundowns head coach.
Rulani Mokwena celebrates at the final whistle after Sundowns beat Chiefs on Saturday. Picture: Backpagepix.
The stakes were high in the MTN8 semi-final between Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs, which ended in another hard-fought victory for the Brazilians.
The 2-1 victory against Amakhosi on Saturday at Lucas Moripe Stadium wasn’t perhaps as comfortable as the home team would have liked.
Sundowns had to be resolute in defence to grind out the result in order to book their place in the final of the lucrative competition on October 7.
Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena pointed to one aspect of their game that was missing from last season, where they only won the DStv Premiership title.
“There are times where we can’t always have all the ball in difficult games and we’ve got to be resolute and find solutions,” Mokwena said of side’s character this season.
“If you look at the best teams in the world, let’s go to Man City for an example, what do you think is Man City’s number one strength? Being in possession of the ball or out of possession? It’s out of possession.
“When Liverpool were winning the Champions League and challenging Man City, what was their greatest strength? The work they did without the ball. Real Madrid when they were winning the Champions League three times in a row, what was their biggest strength? The work without the ball.
“We are trying to develop this thing as a team and develop the team so that we are able to be stronger. Tactically, (we want) to be a bit more like a chameleon because it doesn’t change its personality because it is still a reptile but it adapts and changes colours depending on the surroundings and that’s the type of team we are trying to become.”
The Soweto double
The league champions took the scalp of the two Soweto giants in one week, Orlando Pirates were the first to fall on Wednesday and Chiefs’ brave fight was not enough to advance to the final.
“It was only three points on Wednesday and only a place in the final and nothing more than that and that’s the reality, Mokwena said.
“It is something that we should never take for granted. Not many teams and not many Sundowns teams even in the past were able to beat Chiefs and Pirates in the same week, let alone in a space of four days. So a big congratulations to the fantastic group of players because the game of football belongs to them.
“It’s important that we reflect on that achievement and it’s magnified by the fact that we beat two of our biggest rivals in one week and that is not easy.”