Monday Nov 13, 2023. 14:35
Mamelodi Sundowns head coach Rulani Mokwena insists he is not worried about his team becoming complacent after winning the African Football League (AFL) title on Sunday.
The Brazilians bounced back from a 2-1 defeat to Wydad Casablanca in the first leg of the final with a 2-0 victory at Loftus Versfeld to clinch the trophy 3-2 on aggregate.
After pocketing the $4 million winners’ prize, Mokwena has moved to dismiss suggestions that Masandawana won’t take the other competitions seriously this season.
The 36-year-old tactician is adamant the Tshwane giants will be looking to go all the way in the CAF Champions League this time around after bowing out in the semi-finals last term despite not losing a single match.
Sundowns hold a one-point lead over local rivals SuperSport United in the DStv Premiership with four games in hand and Mokwena is determined to win a record seventh consecutive domestic title,
“They know they will be in big trouble with me and there will be big issues,” he said. “This is a special group, believe me. We lost in Casablanca 2-1. We had a training session the next day with a couple of the players who didn’t play.
“And I can tell you we trained like a team that has just lost 5-0. The mentality of Rushine De Reuck, Brian Onyango and Neo Maema in that training session was just unbelievable and they really pushed.
“This is what makes the group really special. The sense of brotherhood, loyalty and commitment to this club. Don’t worry, there would be no sense of complacency. I would not allow it.
“It’s very difficult because we have to improve our performances generally and to improve that, we need all our players available.
“It’s only about that before you even think about whether it’s a Champions League or PSL [game], there is that clear understanding that we have to get better and we know that.
“It’s difficult at this moment to play every three games, travelling and accumulating fatigue. You see in the PSL, I still watch the games and I see coaches are struggling with injuries and they don’t even have the burden of travelling to North Africa.
“That’s what makes this achievement even sweeter and as I always say to you guys, I don’t think you give enough praise to this group of players.”