Rulani Mokwena plays down favourites tag for Champions League title

Rulani Mokwena plays down favourites tag for Champions League title

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena has said they are not favourites to win the CAF Champions League.

The Brazilians mentor pointed to their record in the continental tournament to support his point given the PSL outfit has only once clinched the competition in 2016 when compared to other semifinalists in Al Ahly, Esperance and TP Mazembe.

Sundowns reached the last four after beating Young Africans on penalties and will now face Esperance. Mokwena doesn’t expect it to be a walk in the park.

"It's tough, of course, the competition, I said to you in the starts of the knockouts, these games are very, very difficult and two seasons in a row now in the semifinals, it's important and let's see. We've been knocked out a couple of times in the quarterfinals, so let's cherish this moment and even in games where we thought we'd come through we've been pulled back a couple of times in the history of this club," Mokwena said.

Mokwena also used Egyptian giants Ahly, the record title holders, as a prime example of knowing how to go all the way.

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"We are entitled, I hear a lot of people say Sundowns are favourites, we could have won the competition a couple of times to be favourites. You don't get the favourites tag because you're playing and everyone just think 'Ow yeah, they will win'. You've got to earn it and you've got to know how to win. You saw Al Ahly last week against Simba, only one chance and they do it, season in, season out, they know how to navigate their way through this competition," Mokwena explained.

Sundowns do have the pedigree to be crowned champions as evidenced by winning the inaugural AFL in November last year.

They are expected to replicate that achievement in the Champions League.

"And that's what we are learning to do, to navigate our way through a competition to take the rolls with the punches and then continue to roll on because teams in the Champions League, especially in the knockouts they give as much as they receive and that becomes very difficult.

“As I said I'd rather focus on the good feeling of having a very, very good week. This was a very, very good week and an important week for the football club and very, very proud and congratulations to everybody at the club."