Thursday, June 13, 2024
HomeAfrican FootballIbenge Critical Of Hilal But Confident Of CAFCL Qualification

Ibenge Critical Of Hilal But Confident Of CAFCL Qualification

Al Hilal head coach Florent Ibenge was critical of some of his players’ professionalism in their 1-0 defeat to Mamelodi Sundowns but is confident they can progress from their CAF Champions League group.

Ibenge took charge of the Sudanese giants after winning the CAF Confederation Cup and Moroccan Throne Cup with RS Berkane last season.

And there’s been major optimism surrounding the ambitious club due to their lavish outlay in the transfer market, despite being grouped with Sundowns, Al Ahly, and Coton Sport.

“Sundowns deserved to win, we were late with our pressing and now we have to go to the drawing board to try and get our first three points,” he said in the post-match press conference.

“[Cassius Mauilia’s goal] changed our game plan, we let them play, we gave them the possession of the ball, we tried to correct it but it was not good enough.”

The Congolese mentor admitted they are underdogs behind Sundowns and Ahly but felt they could have done better at Loftus Versveld, pointing to the fact that some of his players weren’t wearing the right boots and were forced to change them at half-time.

His players were notably slipping on the surface at times, and while there was an improved display in the second half, he feels that limiting Masandawana to only one goal, bodes well for the rest of the group stage, which could well be separated by head to head.

“Of course when it was 1-0, we tried to limit them from getting a second goal, but we had a couple of chances, we could have equalised, as you’ve seen, so absolutely, you cannot allow Sundowns to score the second goal, it would have been more difficult [to advance from this group],” he added before expressing his confidence in the ability of his squad.

“Absolutely, we can go through, we lost the battle but not the war, we still have five games to go, and I believe, if we are here if we are in the Champions League, we can’t be here without believing in ourselves, I believe we have what it takes to get through.”

Ibenge’s charges will now host the Egyptian giants next week at the Al-Hilal Stadium in Khartoum – with the aim of getting their campaign back on track.

Lorenz Kohler
Lorenz Kohler
Lorenz Köhler is an award-winning South African football journalist. Having cut his teeth in the industry working at Kick-Off Magazine, he is now iDiski Times' senior digital content writer. He specialises in breaking top African football stories and transfers with a major focus on the 'big-three' Mamelodi Sundowns, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates and CAF inter-club and international competitions. In 2021 he was listed amongst the top-five journalists under 30 in Print Media for the AIPS Awards.