Mamelodi Sundowns head coach Rulani Mokwena has cautioned his players not to be complacent in their African Football League (AFL) quarter final tie against Angola’s Petro de Luanda, despite having a 2-0 advantage from the first leg.
The South African champions travelled to Luanda on Saturday and came back with a crucial win, thanks to goals from Marcelo Allende and Thapelo Maseko in the second half.
The result puts Sundowns in a strong position to qualify for the semi-finals, as they only need to avoid a heavy defeat at home in Pretoria next week.
However, Mokwena is not taking anything for granted and has reminded his players of the unpredictability of football.
A lesson from the past
Mokwena said he used an example from a recent domestic cup game to warn his players of the possibility of a comeback from Petro.
“My message to the players is to remind them of a Cup game we played in South Africa last week.
“At halftime, we were down 2-0 but we came back in the second half and made it 2-2.
“We needed 45 minutes to score two. This (Petro game) is at halftime, and they have 90 minutes in Pretoria,” the coach said after the game in Luanda.
He added; “It is important for us to stay humble and focused.
“We have seen many things happening in football and teams coming back from even greater score-lines.
“We will approach the game as 0-0 and a different ballgame all together.”
Rhulani Mokwena: Praise for players
Mokwena also praised his players for their performance, especially in the second half, when they managed to score two goals and keep a clean sheet against a tough opponent.
“We beat a very good side with very good organization.
“It was difficult to deal with the overloads they created and I give compliments to our players for the excellent shift they put in,” the coach said.
He also admitted that he made some tactical mistakes in the first half, but corrected them in the second half.
“We switched from a tactical perspective and I have to take responsibility because I got some few things wrong.
“Lots of credit to the players for their performance in the second half.”
Sundowns, who won the CAF Champions League in 2016, are aiming for their second continental trophy, and the AFL will be a big target for Mokwena and his team.