Michaelson Ntokozo Gumede

By Ntokozo Gumede


Tough games help Sundowns grow, says Mokwena

Despite having a dominant presence in the DStv Premiership, Mokwena's toughest challenge is anticipated to arise in the Champions League.

This past Saturday, Rualni Mokwena secured his first win in the Caf Champions League as the sole head coach of Mamelodi Sundowns, defeating Al-Hilal with a 1-0 victory.

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Despite having a dominant presence in the DStv Premiership, Mokwena’s toughest challenge is anticipated to arise in the Champions League.

Mokwena agrees that the Champions League will not be a walk in the park much like the Premiership where Downs have opened up a 23-point gap between themselves and SuperSport United.

“These games must be difficult for our team and the harder they are, the better for us because it helps us grow. These first set of three points are a step towards helping us qualify. What this win means is that we can compete and we need to show some consistency because we could have scored more against them,” said Mokwena.

READ MORE: Sundowns launch CL group stage campaign with victory over Hilal

Last season Masandawana had a perfect group stage campaign where they collected a total tally of 16 points. The mandate remains unchanged this season, except, they want to go beyond the quarterfinals this time around.

“The target is to move to 10 points as quickly as possible. History tells you that the average lowest points in a group is four so if we get to 10 points, it guarantees you a place in the knockouts. Three points regardless of the scorline is very important and the boys were very good and we deserved the three points,” said Mokwena.

Ibenge’s Champions League dream still alive

His counterpart, Florent Ibenge, still holds onto aspirations of advancing to the knockout stages despite the slow start. Their next match is against the record holders, Al-Ahly.

Ibenge has never won this competition as his best record is a runners-up position with AS Vita in 2014.

“We believe that we can still go through. We lost the fight against Sundowns but not the war. We have five games to go and the fact that we are in the Champions League, we are not here by chance but we have what it takes to get through.

“We know we are the underdogs because in this group, Sundowns and Al-Ahly are the favourites but we have to fight for the points in every game that we play,” said Ibenge.