Home Sport CAF Champions League: Mokwena calls on fans to energise the team

CAF Champions League: Mokwena calls on fans to energise the team

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Close on 40,000 spectators are expected to fill Loftus, yet one would think that the encounter with an 83-year-old fan – whose delight was such that she expressed readiness to join the dearly departed – should be motivation enough for Mamelodi Sundowns to want to send Yanga to the cleaners.

Rhulani Rulani Mokwena head coach of Mamelodi Sundowns. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu, BackpagePix

Matshelane Mamabolo

There are 83 reasons why Mamelodi Sundowns will be inspired to play Young Africans off the park in the second leg of their CAF Champions League quarter-final at Loftus Versfeld on Friday night (8pm kick-off).

That is the age of a special Sundowns fan that had her dreams of meeting her favourite players come true this week. And if ever the Brazilians needed special motivation, the old lady gave it to them.

Speaking at the pre-match media conference on Thursday, coach Rulani Mokwena spoke of the importance of his group realising that while their success is good for them as a team and individuals, it is also good for the thousands, if not millions, who love the club.

“We are not doing it just for ourselves. We were fortunate to be graced at our hotel by an 83-year-old lady from Marabastad, who is a fan of Sundowns. She had tears in her eyes when she told us that now she believes God can call her, because she met the players,” Mokwena said.

“When you have that kind of privilege, you cannot be selfish. You have to try and make them happy.”

Surely Themba Zwane and Co will want the old lady to go out with an even bigger smile brought about by them being victorious in reaching the semi-final, and perhaps even going on to win the trophy, right?

To do that, they have to simply beat a stubborn Yanga side they drew 0-0 with in the first leg in Tanzania last weekend.

And while they want to do it for the fans, Mokwena said the self-same fans have a crucial role to play tonight.

“They (supporters) have to be the way they were against Al Ahly in the AFL (African Football League),” Mokwena said in reference to Sundowns’ 1-0 win over the Egyptians in October last year.

“Against Al Ahly, we won because of our fans. Not for a moment during the 90 minutes were they quiet, and the drum kept beating and beating and beating.

“I honestly believe that tomorrow (Friday), if they come in their numbers, fill the stadium and make it yellow, they’ll make the opposition uncomfortable throughout.”

He would not want the usual situation that sees Sundowns fans living the match in its phases.

“And even in the moments when we are suffering, they can’t suffer with us.

“Sometimes Sundowns fans – the Yellow Nation – when we suffer, they suffer … But they can’t suffer with us tomorrow.

“They’ve got to energise us and push us, give us that extra push. And I think if that can happen tomorrow, then we’ve got a big, big advantage because when Loftus is buzzing, when the Yellow Nation is singing and with the energy that they are able to give us, the players just go on and perform.

“And that is what you need in the Champions League,” Mokwena explained, adding that home-ground advantage is “not just about the playing surface, the comfort of being at home”.

“It is actually about the supporters making the stadium a cathedral, a place of worship.

“And tomorrow, they’ve got to worship the team. They’ve got to support the team and energise the team.”

Close on 40,000 spectators are expected to fill Loftus, yet one would think that the encounter with the 83-year-old fan – whose delight was such that she expressed readiness to join the dearly departed – should be motivation enough for the team to want to send Yanga to the cleaners.

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