Mokwena expects hostility at Espérance in CAF tie

Coach frets over Mokoena’s fitness ahead of Tunis first leg

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena is concerned over Teboho Mokoena’s injury before Champions League game against Espérance.
Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena is concerned over Teboho Mokoena’s injury before Champions League game against Espérance.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena says he expects an unfriendly atmosphere when they take on Espérance in the first leg of the CAF Champions League semifinals at Tunis’ Hammadi Agrebi Stadium on Saturday (9pm SA time).

“I expect hostility and tough conditions. Espérance are a good team, they won yesterday [in fact they drew 1-all against Monastir away in the domestic league on Sunday],” Mokwena said after they bottled a two-goal cushion to draw 2-all against Moroka Swallows at Dobsonville Stadium on Monday.

“I watched a little bit with Dayle Solomons [Downs' performance analyst] but I have to first swallow, excuse the pun, the feeling I have after this Swallows game [before analysing the Tunisians properly].”

Teboho Mokoena and Marcelo Allende netted for the Brazilians against the Birds, who struck via Augustine Mahlonoko and Gabadinho Mhango. It was the first time Sundowns scored more than one goal in a game since their 2-0 Nedbank Cup last 16 win over Maritzburg United mid-March.

Mokwena sounded rather relieved that they managed to score two goals, having failed to do so in their previous five matches in all competitions.

“It’s good that we scored two goals and I am also happy that we scored from open play. We could have scored more to be honest because we created a lot of scoring situations. I also think against AmaTuks [in the Nedbank Cup semifinals last Friday] we created better situations to score more but we were a bit unlucky,” Mokwena said.

Mokwena also provided an update on Mokoena, who had to be replaced by Sipho Mbule just four minutes after scoring Sundowns’ opener, a screamer from outside the box that left Swallows goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi shaking his head in disbelief. 

“He [Mokoena] just felt a small tweak and I’m very proud of him. I always say to them [his players] that once you feel something small, don’t take risks. He scored a good goal and he could have celebrated and continued to play because the feel-good hormones take over the pain, but he was professional to say ‘I’ve got something’ [the pain] and I’m very proud of him for that,” the Sundowns coach said.

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