The Brazilians‚ who had already qualified for the quarterfinals coming up next month‚ saw their 28-match unbeaten run in all competitions shattered with this defeat.
The setback also meant their unbeaten home record in the Caf Champions League was brought to a halt. While Mokwena said the result was disappointing, he added they were relieved the unbeaten run ‘monkey is off our back’.
“It’s good that the monkey is off our back now with this unbeaten record everyone talks about. It’s good for the squad sometimes to get a wake up call and understand that we are not invincible, that without humility and our feet firmly on the ground, the game of football can turn on its head and sometimes these are the lessons you’ve got to take,” Mokwena said in a post-match interview.
The expressive 34-year-old coach believes there were vital lessons picked from the result. “Like Nelson Mandela said, ‘you don’t lose, you learn’. If we lose the match over 90 minutes we win with regards to the education and take lessons. The biggest lesson today is that complacency impregnates failure,” he said.
He warned Downs’ players that if they lacked the humility and right focus for every single match, teams that have more hunger and more determination will give them problems.
However, Mokwena said it was better because this happens in a game where the result does not have a huge consequence on their season. “Of course, at Mamelodi Sundowns we want to win football matches regardless of what game it is. We are disappointed when we don’t win football matches because we have a huge responsibility to carry the name and the profile of the club. At this moment, we’re not happy with the result but we take the lesson,” he added.
Mokwena’s thoughts were that they didn’t create enough ‘very good opportunities and just couldn’t get going’ with their build up. In the starting line-up‚ the Tshwane giants’ technical team gave rare starts to the likes of Brian Onyango‚ Khuliso Mudau‚ George Maluleka‚ captain Hlompho Kekana, Aubrey Modiba and Sibusiso Vilakazi.
He is convinced the inclusion of fringe players will increase their options and competitive profile of their squad as they head into the quarterfinals and the final 11 games of the DStv Premiership season. The defending champions visit troubled Chippa United on Monday for their next League assignment.
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By Mthokozisi Dube