Rulani Mokwena cuts relieved figure after Mamelodi Sundowns beat AmaTuks

Rulani Mokwena cuts relieved figure after Mamelodi Sundowns beat AmaTuks

There was a huge sigh of relief from the Mamelodi Sundowns contingent after having to go through penalties to advance to the Nedbank Cup semi-finals.

Sundowns beat Premier Division promotion hopefuls University of Pretoria 4-3 in the shootout at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Friday night, following a nail-biting 1-1 draw in 120 minutes of football. 

Downs coach Rulani Mokwena admitted the reigning DStv Premiership and African Football League champions made things difficult for themselves by missing so many chances.

"Congratulations to the team, congratulations to Tuks for being very good opponents, they were... joh, so difficult. Mario Masha [Sundowns analyst] said to me, it was like visiting the dentist, and it's so true – that one on one [across] the entire pitch," said Mokwena.

"But we also made it difficult for ourselves, we could have been 3 or 4-0 by half-time, maybe even in the first 15 minutes. We missed so many of these chances – Thapelo [Morena], Neo Maema... 

"But alright, we have to suffer together and go through the difficult moments together, but I was very proud of the players, they never gave up."

After conceding an early goal by Lucas Ribeiro Costa inside the first eight minutes, Tuks struck back just after the half-hour mark to level matters through Sundowns development product Delano Abrahams. 

Coach Tlisane Motaung says they tried their best against one of Africa’s biggest teams.

"It was a very difficult match, of course. I thought we didn't start well in the first 10-15 minutes, I thought we were a little bit shaky because Sundowns got a couple of moments behind us," said Motaung.

"They've got players that run in behind, with a lot of mobility in their team, but when we equalised, we settled and saw a little bit of progression.

"We also struggled a little bit in the first half, dealing with Ronwen [Williams] – a clever keeper in terms of building play from the back. We tried to press him, but he was clever to play one-twos with a second defender or midfielder joining.

"One has to really appreciate and be super proud of the fight that our boys showed today, against one of the best teams on the continent, if not the best. 

"Mamelodi Sundowns, we know, have been doing well and one can also just take this opportunity to wish them good luck going forward in their remaining competitions."

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