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'The dream to win the Champions League is not an obsession,' says Sundowns coach Mokwena

Mahlatse Mphahlele Sports reporter
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena says the dream to win the Champions League is not an obsession.
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena says the dream to win the Champions League is not an obsession.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

It's been about seven years since Mamelodi Sundowns laid their hands on the Champions League trophy but coach Rulani Mokwena says their mission to reclaim it has not turned into an obsession. 

Since they won the tournament in 2016, Sundowns have only made it to the semifinal stage once, in the 2018/2019 campaign, where they were eliminated by Moroccan giants Wydad Casablanca. 

Last season they were stunned 3-2 on aggregate in the quarterfinal stage by Angolan side Petro Atlético and there is mounting pressure for the Brazilians to get to the semifinals or go all the way this season. 

As they prepared for their final group stages clash against Cameroonian side Coton Sport at Loftus on Saturday night (9pm), Mokwena said it remans their collective dream to reclaim the holy grail but they are not obsessed with it. 

“We have to work hard for it [to win the Champions League], that’s always the priority and this is the message I sent to the players,” he said. 

“The ambition to win the Champions League is not an obsession, it is the same ambition that comes from the space where we want to win the league title. That’s a dream and it is a dream we hope we can turn into reality sooner rather than later.  

“The ambition to win the Nedbank Cup comes from the same space as the ambition to try to win the Champions League.

“Obsession comes from darker spaces where you could even capitulate if you don’t reach the target. But a dream is one that maybe you are allowed to do it again and again and eventually, as Sundowns, we will win the Champions League. 

“It might not happen this season, maybe it happens next season or the season after. But the performances and the work we put in every  day must reflect the dream. 

“The dream of trying to win the Champions League is a positive dream and one we live and work for every  day.” 

Mokwena also reported that players who were on national duty with their respective countries have returned with no injuries. 

“Peter Shalulile, who represented Namibia against Cameroon, returned on Wednesday to do recovery and we have gave him a day off on Thursday and he will only join us on Friday. 

“Brian Onyango represented Kenya against Iran in a friendly match and he arrived on Wednesday night. We have already had discussions regarding his performance because I watched his game.  

“I gave him a bit of feedback regarding his performance. I thought he was very good against a team that was at the World Cup. 

“The Bafana players arrived on Wednesday night, they reported for training on Thursday and have been assessed by the medical team. They have received support for their recovery and have followed protocols. 

“We will have to deal with them differently because they have had different loads. Aubrey Modiba has a different load compared to Themba Zwane, Zwane has a different load compared to Mothobi Mvala because Mothobi played both games. 

“Cassius Mailula will be on a separate programme, some will be given time off and we will have to manage them differently. We will see if they will be able to help the team on Saturday.” 

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