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Sundowns were the better team even in defeat to Esperance, insists Rhulani Mokwena

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Esperance won the game 1-0, but Mokwena was in a combative mood when asked why the Tunisian side were better tactically than his team.

Rhulani Mokwena, head coach of Mamelodi Sundowns during the CAF Champions League 2023/24 1st leg semi-final match against Esperance Tunis at Stade Olympique Hammadi Agrebi in Rades, Tunisia on 20 April 2024. Picture: Mehrez Toujani/, BackpagePix

Lunga Biyela

Mamelodi Sundowns head coach Rhulani Mokwena has insisted they were the better team during Saturday’s CAF Champions League semi-final first leg against Esperance in Tunisia.

Esperance won the game 1-0, but Mokwena was in a combative mood when asked why the Tunisian side were better tactically than his team.

“I don’t agree that tactically Esperance won, I fully disagree,” Mokwena said in a robust post-match briefing with Tunisian journalists.

“I think in football there’s two very important things during the 90 minutes; The first is how many chances are you able to create, and who created the most chances?

“Who created the most chances between us [Sundowns] and Esperance? Mamelodi, yes? Thank you.

“Then who defended better, the one who gave more chances or the one who gave less chances?,” Mokwena continued after being challenged by the Tunisian media.

“Did Mamelodi concede more chances to Esperance or did Esperance … They conceded more chances than Sundowns, how do you defend well if you concede more chances than the opposition? Maybe there’s a different perspective to the way I analyse football.

“When you defend you shouldn’t concede chances, that’s the way you defend. So I have to defend my team, I don’t agree with that statement, I’m sorry,” he concluded.

Sundowns will hope to get the job done and book their place in the final of the Champions League when they host their Tunisian rivals in the second leg this coming Friday.

Should they win, it will be the third time they have the reached the final of of the continent’s premier club football competition. They lost the 2001 final to Al Ahly, and beat Zamalek in 2016 to win the competition for the first time.

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