Bold Rulani Mokwena says Mamelodi Sundowns clinched Al Ahly tie at Loftus

Bold Rulani Mokwena says Mamelodi Sundowns clinched Al Ahly tie at Loftus

Mamelodi Sundowns booked their ticket to the final of the inaugural African Football League at Loftus Stadium on the back of a 1-0 victory against Al Ahly last weekend, according to coach Rulani Mokwena.

Downs travelled to Egypt with a slender lead from the first leg and the goalless draw in Cairo on Wednesday night has set up a clash with Wydad Casablanca to be played via the home and away format starting on Sunday.

Mokwena was full of praise for the Brazilians, who are now two matches away from the R76-million prize money.

"Mamelodi Sundowns, I think showed character and lot of guile and perseverance in what was a very difficult 97/98 minutes against a very strong team but I must be honest and I must tell you that I think this semifinal was won in South Africa in the first leg," Mokwena said.

The coach gives credit to the Sundowns supporters after they came out in numbers to Loftus despite heavy rains when winger Thapelo Maseko scored the only goal of the game.

"That 1-0 result was very big and I would like to congratulate the entire club, the players, the management of the team but most importantly the Mamelodi Sundowns supporters because when we were at home, they pushed us over the line and our fans play a very, very important role in seeing us getting into the final," Mokwena added.

Asked by Egyptian media whether Sundowns were now a superior team compared to Ahly considering the North Africans have failed to beat the Brazilians in their previous four matches, Mokwena argued it would be unfair for him to weigh in.

"Al Ahly are a big team and we need to always respect [them]. I have big respect for the players of the team, for the club, for the coach as a counterpart. Please allow me not to get into that space because I don't think I'm the right person to judge the quality or the performance of the team or the players," the coach explained.

Regarding his own playing personnel, Mokwena singled out the notable absentees like strikers Peter Shalulile and Lucas Ribeiro but insists those available have proven over and over how committed they are to Sundowns.

"The quality of the players that we are without, of course, they are very important players. Peter Shalulile, Lucas Ribeiro, even Sipho Mbule. We've got quite a few, Thapelo Morena also, you guys know him here, very well but the absence of others gives very good opportunities for the others and for us to use the depth of the squad and instead of focusing on what we don't have, I would rather focus on what we have and what we have is a group of players that are prepared to give their heart, their souls to serve this football club."