Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena didn’t want to be drawn on spending four hours at OR Tambo International Airport on Thursday on their way to the MTN8 final match on Saturday.
Sundowns lost 3-1 on post-match penalties to Orlando Pirates at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday night, after the game had ended to a goalless draw in the 120 minutes.
This website was reliably informed that Sundowns arrived at OR Tambo airport at 4pm to travel to Durban but for unseen events, their flight was delayed, arriving at their destination in Umhlanga after 9pm.
As iDiski Times was at the hotel, the players, team staff and coach Mokwena, coming out at the team bus from the King Shaka International in Durban, all looked deflated and tired.
On the other hand, Pirates touched down in Durban early on Thursday, going to do activation in Umlazi with their title sponsor Vodacom.
Sundowns, as weary as they looked, players and staff went straight to their hotel rooms for a rest.
“No comment,” Mokwena laughed after he was asked if that had an impact on his team’s preparation at the post-match press conference.
According to iDiski Times sources, the SAA Flight, the previous top eight sponsor that was replaced by MTN ahead of the 2008/09 season, was delayed.
But sources said it was not windy or raining in Jo’burg at that time and no one knows why it was delayed for that long.
One thought, since Sundowns are used to waiting at the airports for long during their excursions in Africa, this might be a small matter.
But it was not to be as they lost, which led to Mokwena not offering much when asked about the flight delay, highlighting “it was against all odds”.
“Congratulations to Orlando Pirates for being crowned champions. I think it is only proper to do that,” said Mokwena.
“Let’s also mention how proud our players were – gallant effort. One leg Peter Shalulile does his best and against all odds we tried, and we created incredible chances.
“We had a very good situation with Peter again, Marcelo Allende (in the first half). I think Pirates had one chance – Monnapule Saleng (in the last minute of the first half).
“So it was a good performance and very proud of the players and we just have to dust ourselves up and move on.
“But we could have won it in the 90-minute and unfortunately we didn’t. When we don’t win, the coach must take responsibility and I’m the first to put my hand up and accept the blame.”