Rising Through The Pain: Mokwena’s Motivation for Sundowns Players
Mamelodi Sundowns head coach Rulani Mokwena believes that the pain experienced by his players following their semi-final exit from the tournament will serve as a catalyst for their future success and propel them to even greater heights.
The atmosphere at Loftus Versfeld was filled with somberness and disbelief as the full-time whistle blew, signaling Sundowns’ exit from the semi-finals on goal difference after a 2-2 draw with champions Wydad Athletic Club. Despite being regarded as the favorites and often referred to as “the best team in Africa,” Sundowns fell short, leaving their players in a state of shock and disappointment.
One player notably affected was Mothobi Mvala, who scored a late own goal that ultimately proved decisive. Tears were also shed by emerging talent Cassius Maiulula and captain Themba Zwane, a member of the triumphant 2016 Champions League squad.
In the midst of these emotional scenes, Mokwena recognized the importance of his leadership role in picking up the pieces and motivating the team for the upcoming 2023/24 season.
“I love them more [after the semi-final exit],” Mokwena expressed, emphasizing the unwavering support he has for his players. “In good and bad, we stay together. But yeah, that’s why I’m here and why the club has entrusted me with this responsibility.”
He acknowledged that it is not just during the good times that his love and support for the players matter, but especially during the difficult moments. Mokwena believes that experiencing pain is crucial for growth and development, and it will be the driving force behind the team’s journey to the next level.
Sundowns, despite their dominant performance throughout the Champions League campaign, were only able to secure the DStv Premiership as their sole silverware for the season. However, Mokwena remains committed to his players and believes that the pain they felt in this defeat will motivate them to achieve greater success in the future.
As they reflect on their journey and regroup for the upcoming season, Mokwena will continue to provide guidance, take responsibility, and ensure that the players understand the importance of channeling their pain into progress. By using this setback as a stepping stone, Mokwena aims to lead Sundowns to even greater accomplishments and reaffirm his unwavering support for the team, even in challenging times.