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Mokwena hails Mamelodi Sundowns’ Royal AM win as ‘best tactical performance of the season’

22:53 GMT+3 30/04/2022
Rulani Mokwena of Mamelodi Sundowns.
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Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Rhulani Mokwena was impressed by the Pretoria side’s character in grinding out a 2-1 win over Royal AM in Saturday evening's Nedbank Cup semi-final.

Downs found themselves up against a resolute Royal AM side who have been this season’s surprise package – the Durban side are currently in second position on the league table.

And they had to work hard for their place in the final, which was earned with goals from Aubrey Modiba and Pavol Safranko, either side of Thabo Matlaba’s 72nd minute equaliser, with all three goals coming in a thrilling second half.

“We knew we had to battle today and we had to fight and grind. We played with a lot of grit and tenacity...and they (Royal AM) were fresher. They ran, they closed us down, they chased us all over the pitch and they forced us into a lot of mistakes,” Mokwena told SuperSport TV after the game.

“But I think tactically we were excellent today. Probably the best tactical performance of this season.”

Sundowns were forced to make a change in the 39th minute as Divine Lunga replaced an injured Brian Onyango.

According to Mokwena, the Sundowns squad’s ability to absorb a lengthy injury list has been key to this season’s success and also highlights the character of the team.

“I don’t know of a game that we’ve gone into and had everybody available,” he said. “We have not. And that’s what highlights the magnificent work that this group of players have put through this season.

“No whinging, no whining. [Players] playing different positions at different times. I mean Divine today has to play left centre-back.

“Lyle [Lakay] had to come in and play left wing. And so we go, its just incredible what this group of players do. I don’t think we give them enough credit, they were magnificent. I call them honest, and that’s what you see today...and a well deserved place in the final.”