Rulani Mokwena believes Mamelodi Sundowns are not under pressure to win the title as they begin their quest for continental success on Sunday with a low-key Caf Champions League second round qualifier against Seychelles minnows La Passe at Loftus Versfeld.
Sundowns’ large off-season signings look to be a signal from the club’s management that the Brazilians aim to mount a serious push in the 2022-23 Champions League to add to their 2016 triumph.
Sundowns have added quality and depth to their team by bringing in Chilean Marcelo Allende, Moroccan Abdelmouniim Boutouil, Bongani Zungu, Sipho Mbule, Ronwen Williams, Terrence Mashego, and Ethiopian Abubeker Nasir.
When they were knocked out in the quarterfinals by unfancied Petro Atletico of Angola last season, it was judged a failure considering the Tshwane giants’ embarrassment of riches in terms of player and technical staff.
Sundowns have only made it to the semifinal stage of the continent’s best club championship once since defeating Zamalek in 2016 final, in 2018/19, when they were eliminated by Moroccan heavyweights Wydad Casablanca.
“I don’t think the players are afraid,” Mokwena said as the Brazilians prepared to welcome Indian Ocean islanders La Passe, who will play their home leg in South Africa on Sunday since they don’t have a suitable site in Seychelles.
The second leg will take place on Friday, October 14 at Loftus.
“I believe that once you begin to think about fear, you are already thinking about failing.” We strive to be optimists and positive thinkers as much as possible.
“Every day, we talk about positivity, positive thinking, and positive behavior on the field, which means forward passes, forward runs, and trying to push a little earlier and higher, and stuff like that.” That transfers into positivity in the locker room and conference room; we try to stay as cheerful as possible because the fear of failing has never overcome us.
“In general, you lose more than you win in sports.” It’s the same in sports like golf, tennis, football, rugby, and cricket. In sports, you clearly realize that you either win, lose, or tie.”
Mokwena’s hope stems from the fact that his team has players with the necessary experience and skill to compete at the continental level.
“We go in with a positive attitude to strive to win every match, not with inhibitions of fear, holding back, or dread of losing.” “I doubt it because we have enough space in the locker room.” Denis Onyango, the veteran Downs goalkeeper, was named to the Caf Champions League team of the decade the other day, and you don’t get to that level if you don’t win things.
“You don’t win things if you’re always held back by fear, since fear holds you back in everyday life.” We make every effort to remain and think positively. That means always wanting to win everything and working hard to be the greatest.”