Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rhulani Mokwena said the Brazilians have shown their ability to shake off disappointment in the past and to go on and collect more silverware.
IT COULD be argued that there was a degree of bad luck in Mamelodi Sundowns’ MTN8 final loss on Saturday night, or at least that might have been the feelings of head coach Rhulani Mokwena after the penalty shoot-out.
The Brazilians came up short against an inspired Orlando Pirates side at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday and failed to deny the Buccaneers back-to-back Wafa Wafa titles.
The Chloorkop outfit were heavy favourites to capture the first piece of silverware of the 2023/24 campaign, having stamped their authority on this fixture in recent seasons. However, The Sea Robbers turned the tables on Sundowns, leaving Mokwena frustrated.
The normally efficient Sundowns front-line was guilty of missing great opportunities in the match, moments Mokwena pointed to even though he was proud of his team’s display.
“We created incredible chances,” he said after the match.
“We had a very good situation with Shika (Themba Zwane), we had other ones with Peter (Shalulile) and Marcelo (Allende) and Pirates only had one chance, which was that (Monnapule) Saleng situation. So, a good performance and very proud of the performance.”
The two teams battled on a windy Durban night, the kind which presented a clear advantage to the side playing with it, but Mokwena elected not to attribute his side’s defeat to those harsh conditions, however, and chose to shoulder the responsibility.
“The conditions (windy weather) were quite difficult. The pitch was not the best and quite long, heavy and slow, even though they tried to water it,” said Mokwena. “But it sounds like sour grapes when you try to speak about it when you don’t win, you know?”
The Brazilians have shown their ability to shake off disappointment in the past to go on and collect more trophies and break more records.
Mokwena and his charges will now turn their attention to the possibilities of lifting any of the DStv Premiership, Caf Champions League, Nedbank Cup and, maybe, the proposed African Football League (AFL).
The 36-year-old admitted he was bitterly hurt by the defeat but expected his side to return to the highs of previous seasons by claiming silverware.
“We let our supporters down. We let the football club down. For sure, we feel it. We apologise for that but we march on. The universe has no budget for pity parties,” he said.
“There is no time to feel sorry for ourselves, we have to pick ourselves up and be strong.
“We’ve got a lot of trophies to play for and a lot of games to win. We will bounce back!”
Sundowns will return to action after the Fifa international break with a match against Petro de Luanda in the AFL.