‘That’s very disrespectful’: Sundowns coach Mokwena calls out DRC journo

03 December 2023 - 13:38
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Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena.
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena called out a journalist for a “disrespectful question” in the Democratic Republic of Congo after his side's Caf Champions League defeat to TP Mazembe on Saturday, and called for the press conference to be ended.   

Sundowns suffered a 1-0 loss in their Group A at Stade TP Mazembe in Lubumbashi, leaving all the teams level on three points after two matches. Downs are still in top place on goal difference, Mazembe are in second, Mauritanian outfit FC Nouadhibou in third and Egypt's Pyramids in fourth.   

Mokwena was irked by a question in the post-match press conference from a member of the media who bizarrely insinuated Sundowns travelled all the way from South Africa to purposefully lose the match.

The journalist said Sundowns did not create opportunities, despite the South African and African Football League champions hitting the woodwork three times.   

Audio from Rulani Mokwená post-match press conference after Mamelodi Sundowns' Caf Champons League defeat against TP Mazembe in Lubumbashi.

“We came here to lose the match? What do you mean we were not involved [in trying] to score?” asked a surprised Mokwena.   

“But Themba Zwane hit the crossbar in the first half, Sailor Mudau hit the upright in the second half — I mean, I don’t understand which team comes to [lose]?   

“You want to tell me we came here to lose the game?” probed Mokwena, as the reporter responded yes.   

“That’s very disrespectful. We don’t work hard and put so many hours in to come to lose football matches,” he said.    

“I find your question a bit disrespectful.   

“To be honest, if that is the spirit that this press conference is going to be in, we may as well end it because I come here with respect and humility to respect you guys and respect Mazembe and you show disrespect to the football club [Sundowns].”   

Before things got heated, Mokwena kicked off his press briefing by congratulating Downs' opponents but said the way the Brazilians lost was hard to stomach.   

“Congratulations to TP Mazembe on the win and of course we are not happy to lose the match, especially if you consider the number of chances we created,” Mokwena said.   

“We had clear chances, I remember we hit the crossbar and upright three times. There was a very good save also in the second half with Peter Shalulile who had a one-on-one with the keeper [Alioune Faty] and he made a very good save with his feet.   

“The type of goal we conceded is a bit difficult to stomach. But of course at the end of the day in football what matters is the result. So, with graciousness and humility, we accept the defeat and congratulate our opponent on winning.”   

Mokwena also shielded his players and said he must be blamed for the defeat.

“Am I confused about my team? Not a chance. I love my players and I love them even more than I loved them before the match,” Mokwena said.   

“They’ve already proved that this group of players are the best on the African continent and when they lose, we lose together. And the responsibility lies on the shoulders of the coach.   

“The players gave everything they had and I’m really proud of their efforts and if there’s anyone to be blamed for the defeat, it’s me. So [I have] no doubts about my players.”

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