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Infantino praised Sundowns’ ‘magnificent football’, says Mokwena

Coach highlights impact of Shalulile, Ribeiro

Sithembiso Dindi Sports Reporter
Confederation of African Football president Patrice Motsepe and Fifa president Gianni Infantino hand the trophy to Mamelodi Sundowns captain Themba Zwane after the 2023 African Football League final second leg match against Wydad Athletic at Loftus Stadium on Sunday.
Confederation of African Football president Patrice Motsepe and Fifa president Gianni Infantino hand the trophy to Mamelodi Sundowns captain Themba Zwane after the 2023 African Football League final second leg match against Wydad Athletic at Loftus Stadium on Sunday.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Mamelodi Sundowns received high praise from Fifa president Gianni Infantino after their historic inaugural African Football League (AFL) victory in the final against Wydad Casablanca on Sunday, said Brazilians coach Rulani Mokwena.

Sundowns defeated the Moroccans giants 2-0 in the second leg of the final for a 3-2 aggregate victory to lift the trophy at a packed Loftus Stadium in Pretoria.

Goals from Peter Shalulile and Aubrey Modiba in each half delivered the trophy for Mokwena's side, who displayed sparkling football, dispatching Angola's Petro Atletico in the quarterfinals, Egyptian giants Al Ahly in the semis and Moroccan hoodoo team Wydad in the final.

The mega-wealthy AFL is a Fifa and Confederation of African Football (CAF)-sanctioned tournament, and the brainchild of Infantino and CAF president Patrice Motsepe, who is also Downs' owner. Motsepe, who attended at Loftus with Infantino, has stepped aside as the Brazilians' president during his CAF term as son and club chair Tlhopie Motsepe runs the Pretoria giants.

The Fifa president also attended the Soweto derby between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates on Saturday.

After the match Mokwena said Infantino expressed high praise for Sundowns and the style of football they displayed to get the better of a crack North African outfit.

“As I walked onto the stage, Dr Patrice Motsepe, the CAF president and our former club president, congratulated me. As I walked to the Fifa president, Mr Infantino, the first thing he said to me was, ‘Your team plays magnificent football',” Mokwena said.

Mokwena praised his players - including forwards Shalulile and Lucas Ribeiro, who played a crucial role in the second leg after making a return from injury - for their discipline in dismantling a rigid Wydad.

“As I always say, the game of football belongs to the players but heavy is the head that carries the crown.

“I think sometimes we all forget that by nature football is a low scoring game, but you see how much of a difference e Shalulile and a half-fit Ribeiro make to this team."

 

TimesLIVE


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