Tuesday Feb 14, 2023. 15:14
Mamelodi Sundowns head coach Rulani Mokwena has set his side a target of 10 points in the CAF Champions League group stages after beating Al Hilal 1-0 on matchday 1.
Cassius Mailula’s 25th-minute goal settled the Group B tie at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday as the Brazilians put early pressure on continental rivals Al Ahly.
Mokwena insisted it was important to get off to a winning start against the Blue Wave and thought his players coped well on a tricky surface to take the first step towards qualifying for the knockout stages.
Sundowns dominated possession in Pretoria and had 15 attempts at goal, with Mokwena admitting another goal or two would have given them more breathing room but he was pleased with their efforts on the day.
“I thought we were very good apart from the challenge of the pitch, I thought we were very good in certain moments on the ball. Congratulations to the team, three important points in the group stage,” he said.
“I celebrate with them and I feel what they feel. [It’s] important for the football club and important three points to put us in that space for qualifying and getting us closer to qualifying.
“This means that we can compete, we know we can and we’ve just got to show consistency now, try to push and make sure that we can get better.
“First it’s to get three points, the target is to move as close as possible to 10. History tells you that the lowest number of points to come out of the group stages is four.
“But we want to try to get us as close as possible to 10 points because that guarantees you more or less a position in the knockouts and so three points regardless of the scoreline is very important [and] a clean sheet.
“It could’ve been more, I think we scored a very good goal for the second one but unfortunately it was judged offside. In certain moments we were very good and we played the game, we were comfortable even though we had a few jitters in certain moments.
“A few misplaced passes but I thought the boys were very good today and applied themselves very well. We could’ve scored more, we could’ve created more chances, we didn’t give a lot today against a very dangerous side on counter attacks. We were resolute and we didn’t give a lot of chances.”