Mokwena: A game of two halves

Mokwena: A game of two halves
Rulani Mokwena, coach of Sundowns

by Staff Reporter

Sunday Feb 20, 2022. 10:00

Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Rulani Mokwena admitted there were positives and negatives in their 0-0 draw with Al Merrikh at the Al Salam Stadium on Saturday.

The Brazilians played well in the first half of their CAF Champions League Group A clash in Cairo and created numerous chances, but struggled after the break as Lee Clark tweaked his system to create an overload in the midfield.

Mokwena felt that Masandawana were dominant overall on the day, although he acknowledged they were fortunate not to be punished for being sloppy in possession at times.

The result saw Downs remain unbeaten after two matches and they top the group on four points, with Al Merrikh, Al Ahly and Al Hilal all on one point each.

“(It was) A game of two halves,” Mokwena said in the post-match press conference. “In the first half I think we played exceptionally well, (we were) extremely dominant, we played to create a lot of chances and had six big chances and they created two opportunities from our carelessness on the ball and they caught us on the counter-attack.

“The one that Brian Onyango cleared off the line was a big chance but it came from our situation in having a set-piece and turning over the ball and then the second chance towards the end we turned over the ball and they created something from that.

“We didn’t feel like we were in trouble for most parts of the second half. I think tactically also we were very good.

“They changed the system a lot, made of couple of changes with the personnel also and when we were expecting a player like Ahmed [Al-Tesh], who’s the No.10 and probably the most important player for them in what we’ve analysed, particularly in the games against Express and against Zanaco and they overloaded the midfield, but today they went with a back-three and they employed wing-backs that were very, very aggressive.

“A 3-4-3 sort of formation with very aggressive wingers that came onto the sides to try and create 2v1 situations on our full-backs, but we dealt very well with that and we had a lot of space in the midfield and we were very dominant.

“Not so good in the second half but a performance in the first half that we can build on.”

Sundowns are next in action against defending champions Al Ahly at the Cairo International Stadium on February 26.

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