Mamelodi Sundowns head coach Rulani Mokwena says they 2-0 win over Petro de Luanda in their African Football League debut was not about revenge.
Sundowns were dumped out of the quarter-final of the CAF Champions League two seasons ago by the Girabola champions after an incredible campaign where they were touted as clear favourites for the title before Wydad went on the lift the crown in Casablanca.
Mokwena, who was then co-head coach alongside Manqoba Mnqithi at the time seemingly exercised those demons with a memorable away performance in Luanda with Ronwen Williams saving a first-half penalty before second-half goals from Marcelo Allende and Thapelo Maseko secured two crucial away goals for their quarter-final showdown.
“We beat a very, very good side with very good organisational forms, very difficult to deal with the overloads they create,” Mokwena said after the game.
“I gave you the line-up in the pre-match press conference, but we had only nine out of the XI because Megue was injured, surprised to see [Tiago] Azulão start from the bench but a good team and got to give great compliments for our players for an excellent shift and tactically being very good.
“The first half was not so good for us, we struggled a little bit but fantastic second half and incredible compliments to the group of players for adapting and for [an] incredible performance throughout.”
Mokwena went on to deny the notion they are into the semi-finals of the inaugural African Football League, where the winning prize money stands at a staggering R75-million.
“No, [we are not in the semi-finals], you have seen many things happen in football, you’ve seen come back from even greater scorelines,” Mokwena stated before rebuffing the Angolan media narrative of revenge.
“We look forward to taking this scoreline to South Africa but we approach it as 0-0 and a different ball game.
“My message to the players is to remind them about a game we played a few days ago in a cup match in South Africa – and at halftime we were 2-0 down, came back in the second half to make it 2-2, so this is half-time of 90 minutes.
“So it’s important for us to stay humble, very focused, respect our opponents and the quality they have, play the game and not the scoreline.”
Mokwena continued: “I can answer that from a personal perspective as the leader of the group, I’m not a person who speaks about revenge, it comes from a very dark place.”
“I never use the word revenge and never does my heart have those types of intentions – I like to live life as an optimist with good energy and positivity.
“So the words revenge, because it comes from a dark place doesn’t exist for me.”