Sundowns' Maema admits red card played huge role in semi against Wydad
Mamelodi Sundowns' creative midfielder Neo Maema has admitted his red card in the first leg of their Caf Champions League semifinal against Wydad Casablanca in Morocco had a huge effect on the tie.
Maema, who has been instrumental for Sundowns in all competitions, saw red in the dying minutes of the 0-0 draw in Casablanca and subsequently missed the second leg at Loftus Stadium, which ended 2-2 to see Wydad through on away goals.
Midfielder Marcelo Allende was also red-carded in the closing stages of the away leg as the Brazilians finished the match with nine men.
Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena was forced to reshuffle the team in the second leg with Sphelele Mkhulise in for Maema, but the change did not have the desired effect.
“If I can remember, I never got a red card before that game against Wydad,” Maema said.
“To get the red card at that stage of the season and in a big game was disappointing for me because I could have done better. I watched it again and I felt I put my team in a difficult position because they had to play 45 minutes with 10 men.
“I apologised to my teammates, coaches and everyone. It is in the past but I also know it had a huge effect on the result.”
Maema also commented on the snub by Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos in the preliminary squad for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Morocco at FNB Stadium on June 17.
“On the Bafana issue, I am more of a spiritual person and I believe in God with everything I have. I know how it feels for a player to represent their country.
“I always try to make sure I stay consistent with my performances, continue to raise up my levels and make sure I wait for my chance. It will open up, it will come, because God has his own ways of doing things.”
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