No Compromises: Mokwena Vows to Uphold Sundowns’ Principles
Mamelodi Sundowns head coach Rulani Mokwena has affirmed that the team will not compromise their principles of how they want to play football, despite their recent disappointment in the CAF Champions League.
Sundowns held the lead twice against champions Wydad at Loftus Versfeld but were ultimately eliminated after the second leg semi-final ended in a 2-2 draw, with Wydad advancing on the away goals rule.
Following recent discussions about the North African formula of winning at all costs, sometimes at the expense of stylish football, Mokwena emphasized that Sundowns will stick to their game plan in order to conquer Africa’s elite club competition.
However, some may argue that a more pragmatic approach, such as reinforcing the defense in the final stages and adopting a defense-first mentality, could have secured Sundowns a place in the final. By doing so, they might have joined Al Ahly, whom they defeated 5-2 in the group stages, as finalists.
When questioned about not playing in a more defensive manner in the final minutes to secure victory, Mokwena acknowledged that style of play is an intriguing topic. He noted that this question has been posed to many successful coaches, not just himself.
Mokwena emphasized that there is more than one way to win, just as there is more than one way to live life. Football, being a reflection of society, invites judgments of not being good enough in times of failure and not being good enough even in times of success, as there will always be others who believe they can do things differently or better.
He added that Sundowns have attempted different approaches in the past, including a pragmatic style and a percentage-based approach, but those methods have also proven ineffective. Therefore, he urged patience and requested time before passing judgment on their current style of play.
Mokwena reiterated that their desire to win the Champions League is not driven by selfishness or obsession. Instead, it is deeply rooted in the culture of Masandawana, the nickname of the club. He emphasized that winning the title in a specific manner aligns with the identity of the club, its supporters, and its rich footballing tradition.