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By Katlego Modiba

Football Journalist


Mokwena reflects on heart-breaking champions league exit

"I’m humbled that the chairman of the club has already addressed the players and tried to pick them up in the change room because it is a down spirited change room,” said a visibly disappointed Mokwena.


Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena understandably cut a dejected figure following the club’s exit in the Caf Champions League at the hands of Esperance on Friday.

ALSO READ: Mokwena unsure of Sundowns future after Champions League exit

There was heartache at Loftus Versfeld after a 1-0 defeat in the second leg of the semifinal. The Brazilians lost the two-legged tie 2-0 on aggregate after being outwitted by the North Africans.

It was at this stage of the competition where Sundowns fell to Wydad Casablanca on away goals rule last season at the same ground in front of their home fans.

“We had a lot things going against us but that’s life and now we have to pick the players up and I’m humbled that the chairman of the club has already addressed the players and tried to pick them up in the change room because it is a down spirited change room,” said a visibly disappointed Mokwena.

“The players feel like they gave it their all rightfully so because I thought they were amazing today and they ran more and put a lot of volume around the box to create more chances. You could feel that as it was going, especially with Aubrey Modiba hitting the crossbar and it comes back to Lorch, you then got a feeling that we could play for another 90 minutes and you probably won’t score.”

The 37-year-old coach was gracious in defeat. He conceded that the four-time champions league winners deserved their passage into the final where they will play the defending champions Al-Ahly.

“I think it’s only proper to start by congratulating the Esperance for beating us over two legs by 1-0 scorelines reflects for me that they deserve to be in the final,” he said.

“Let me take this opportunity to congratulate them for two good results that put them in the final of the Caf Champions League and I can only wish them well against Al-Ahly. It’s a difficult feeling and we’ve been talking about improving our performances to give ourselves a chance to win.

“If I feel that we dominated in Tunisia then I don’t know what other narrative to use now but these types of games are about margins. We all knew through analysis that a goal from either side would come from a moment of brilliance in an opposition box or a mistake. In both legs we committed two very big mistakes.”

ALSO READ: Poor referees ‘kill’ the game, says Galaxy coach Ramovic

There’s no rest for Masandawana who play TS Galaxy in a DStv Premiership match on Monday before taking on Kaizer Chiefs three days later. They will then turn their focus to the semifinal clash against Stellenbosch FC in the Nedbank Cup on Sunday.

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