Mokwena says Sundowns strive to be at level of Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea with their 'rest defence' tactics

23 September 2021 - 10:08
Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Rulani Mokwena has explained how the team has been resolute at the back conceding zero goals in four Premiership matches.
Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Rulani Mokwena has explained how the team has been resolute at the back conceding zero goals in four Premiership matches.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

Rulani Mokwena has said Mamelodi Sundowns' perfect defence record in the Premiership so far is largely due to a modern tactical theory called “rest defence” that is yielding results for the club.

Mokwena said Sundowns employs the tactical aspect in their game and strives to be at the level of English Premier League giants Chelsea, where he believes rest defence is best utilised by German coach Thomas Tuchel.

Rest defence is a tactical term used to describe teams’ attacking structure that ensures a good transition into counter-pressing and defending on losing possession of the ball.

Mokwena has been preaching the tactical term in interviews and on his social media platforms and was asked to explain the theory in simple terms.

“I love speaking football, and so please, more questions about the technicalities of the game. I love those types of questions,” said the Sundowns co-coach.

“Rest defence is something that is predominantly coming into football a lot more.

“I think the one team that has it right, if you watch a lot of Chelsea and see how Thomas Tuchel sets up his team, that is where the education is.

“We strive to get to that level.

“We want to be just as good as some of the top teams in the modern game and that means, even here in SA, where a lot of the teams heavily rely on transitions, it means your rest defence has got to be proper.

“What it does mean is that you are resting in a defensive phase while you are in possession of the ball.

“So you are defending passively, but you are in possession and you are in attack, and that is what rest defence is all about.

“Rest defence means being ready to defend, being in the right places offensively and you are ready to defend when a breakdown takes place.”

Ahead of the titanic clash against Orlando Pirates in Soweto on Saturday, Sundowns have 10 points from a possible 12.

They have won three and drawn one of their four opening DStv Premiership matches without conceding a single goal, while scoring six times. Mokwena said Sundowns’ application of a rest defence is starting to yield results.

“We work very hard on this and it is good that it reflects on the game and reflects in the results.

“But as I always say, the game belongs to the players, and they work and bring these principles and schemes to life.”


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