Mokwena: We lost the right match

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  • Post published:April 18, 2022

Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Rulani Mokwena admits their defeat by Petro de Luanda in the Caf Champions League quarter-final first leg reminded them they are not “invincible”.

The Brazilians endured a shock 2-1 defeat by Petro in the first leg at the Estádio 11 de Novembro on Saturday through goals from Tiago Azulão and Yano, cancelling out Lyle Lakay’s sixth-minute opener.

Sundowns will now have all to play for in the return leg when they welcome the Angolan side to the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday, with kick-off set for 6pm.

“Congratulations to the opposition, I think they were clearly the better team in the first half. Petro put us in, particularly after a very good start from us where we scored from exactly what we had prepared,” Mokwena told his club’s official website.

“But after we started very well, they grew into the game and took advantage of playing at home, the quick equaliser after we scored galvanised the supporters. You could feel the energy gave them a bit of a boost and, although we suffered a little bit for 30 minutes after that, we really didn’t look like we would concede. So, we are very disappointed that we conceded a second goal just before half time.

“But, like we said at half time to the players, we had done the most difficult part which was to score an away goal. The most important thing was to try to win the second half, which we thought we played a lot better in the second half and we were a little bit unfortunate with the goal – the equaliser from the VAR but we are OK to go to Johannesburg with a 2-1 scoreline. We take the away goal and we can definitely score and I think Petro also knows that there’s a goal in Pretoria.”

However, Mokwena insists his side cannot afford to be complacent when they welcome the Angolan side to the FNB Stadium in the return leg after their first-leg defeat.

“At Sundowns we play every match to win, we came here to try to win, disappointed in the display in the first half – lacking aggression, lacking intensity, but we showed that we are much better than our first-half performance in the second half,” he added.

“We created more goal scoring opportunities, had more final-third opportunities, dominated the ball a little bit more, dominated the field a little bit more by pressing the line a little bit higher and trying to press from the top a little bit better.

“Unfortunately we lost today, but we lost the right match, a match that gives us many lessons. It reminds us that we are not invincible, but in a very humble way we accept the lesson and we move on.

“And now it’s to recover the team, bring the body back and get back to South Africa safe, watch the game over again, do the corrections and prepare for the second leg, but we will be in the semi-final.”