“Was the performance good enough? No. Did we deserve to win the match? No,” said the Sundowns co-head coach.
The fact that CR Belouizdad brought Mamelodi Sundowns’ 28-match unbeaten run across all competitions to an end did not sit well with co-head coach Rhulani Mokwena, as he always claims that Masandawana are obsessed with winning every match.
Downs succumbed to the Algerian side in the Caf Champions League, losing 2-0 at home even though the result did not have much bearing on their progress in the competition, as they had long booked their place in the quarterfinals.
“The monkey is off our back now with an unbeaten record that everyone talks about and it is good for the squad to get a wake-up call and understand that we are not invincible,” said Mokwena.
“The game of football can turn on its head. Like Nelson Mandela said, ‘You don’t lose, you learn’. Of course we want to win football matches and we are disappointed if we don’t win, because we have a huge responsibility to carry the profile of the club.
“Was the performance good enough? No. Did we deserve to win the match? No. There are some non-visible positives … but that does not overshadow the fact that we are disappointed with the result and the performance,” Mokwena added.
More than anything, the Downs mentor appreciates his players’ fighting spirit even though they did not get a goal to show for their efforts.
“The reality is that the players have shown that they have got the character to turn around results but sometimes the universe talks to us a little bit and we take the lessons. It is not always easy to find cohesion and very good combinations to be able to dominate,” said the former Orlando Pirates mentor.
He added: “It is a very good lesson and we thank God for the timing because we have already qualified. When you lose a game that has got no consequence, you can budget for it but it is very important that the players are wise enough to take the lesson.”
Sundowns’ next game certainly does have a consequence, against Orlando Pirates on Thursday in the Nedbank Cup quarterfinals.