Rulani – Hilal Beat Ahly In These Conditions

Mamelodi Sundowns head coach Rulani Mokwena has detailed the challenges they face ahead of their CAF Champions League clash against Al Hilal in Sudan.

Sundowns have already booked their place in the quarter-final of the Champions League due to their superior head-to-head record over Al Ahly – after the 5-2 thrashing of the Red Devils at Loftus Versveld last week.

But they could seal their place as Group B winners should they produce another win against Florent Ibenge’s side on Saturday at the Al Hilal Stadium.

“The trip has been daunting of course because first, we had to make sure that we have to play very well against a difficult side in Royal AM and we won a difficult game against a good side with very good players and a very good coaching staff,” he said about their journey to Sudan this week.

“Coach John Maduka has done incredible work since his reappointment but the players invested a lot and it was a difficult game because mentally we had to show the intensity and the desire to win in a different competition from the CAF Champions League with Al Ahly but now we come back… a lot of hours of traveling.

“We arrived, [got] a little bit of rest, and then to an adaptation session so their work can continue to matchday minus one, but the mentality is good, the players are focused and working very very hard to play against a very difficult side to play in a very difficult environment with a lot of conditions that will be against us.

“But in our favour is our mentalities, the preparation, and commitment of the group, I’m proud of the group, the selflessness, the service they provide with regards to helping the team and making sure they make many of us very happy.

“And just the spirit amongst the players, the spirit, the work ethic is very pleasing to see, so now we have to put the final preparations together to be ready for a difficult game on Saturday.” 

With the game set to be played behind closed doors, Mokwena, who is unbeaten since taking over as sole head coach this season, is under no illusions over what Hilal might come forth with, in order to progress alongside Masandawana with one game to spare.

“No they are a difficult side, they have won their games, a very important game against Al Ahly they won in the same conditions, so it will be a difficult side with some very good players, [Mohamed] Abdelrahman, Fabrice [Ngoma] in the midfield.

“They have very good players so it will be a very difficult game for us but a game we will work very hard to be better prepared to make sure we win.”

The game between Sundowns and the Sudanese giants will kickoff at 15h00 with the weather forecasted to be at 37 degrees Celsius.

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