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By Katlego Modiba

Football Journalist

Mokwena wary of ‘poisonous’ praise from Sundowns opponents

"I'd rather have people that come straight and show that they hate me and the team,"says Mokwena.

Shortly after his team finished top of Group A in the Caf Champions League, Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena is not letting compliments from his rivals get to him and his team.

ALSO READ: Sundowns edge Mazembe in Caf Champions League

Heading into last Saturday’s grudge match against TP Mazembe, his counterpart at the DRC giants Lamine Ndiaye called the Brazilians the best team on continent.

Sundowns went on to get revenge and record a 1-0 victory over the five-time Champions League winners at Lucas Masterpieces Moripe Stadium. They lost by the same narrow margin in the corresponding fixture that was played in Lubumbashi last year.

“I’m not used to praise and I say to the players that be careful of praise because it’s like being fed honey with with a knife,” Mokwena cautioned in the post-match press conference.

“I look around when people start to praise you before they kill you, they will pat (you on the back). I’d rather have people that come straight and show that they hate me and the team.

“That is much better because the praise puts you in a false sense of (security) and you believe the hype too much so I don’t listen to the praise. I prefer the criticism and hate. It drives me and makes me want to prove (a point) but I accept it with a lot of humility.”

Peter Shalulile’s converted penalty turned out to be the only goal of the match in Tshwane after Lucas Ribeiro did well to win the spot kick late in the first half.

“We stressed the importance of winning this game and also because there was a little bit of a sour taste after we lost  because we really played well in Lubumbashi but we were better today,” Mokwena added Mokwena.

“We had so much control and a performance like this deserves so much more goals. Mazembe didn’t create chances and the one they got was from a mistake but other than that it was really a spotless performance.

“I was really happy with not just the result but the control, aggression and bravery of the team. The team played with so much courage and we took risks when we had to and that’s how big teams must play. I’m proud of finishing top and it ticks a lot of boxes and it gives us confidence going into the knockout stage.”

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Sundowns, ASEC Mimosas, Petro de Luanda and 11-time record winner Al-Ahly will be seeded in the quarter-final draw. They will be pitted against the runners-up from other groups while also having the advantage of playing the second leg at home.

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