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Sundowns not looking far, says Mokwena ahead of pirates game

Mokwena has played down Mamelodi Sundowns' early season signs of dominance and said the champions are not looking too far ahead of themselves ahead of their mouth-watering clash against Orlando Pirates in Soweto on Saturday.

Mokwena said this despite early dominance from a side bidding for what would be an unprecedented fifth DStv Premiership title in a row and 11th overall since the Premier Soccer League's inception in 1996.

Sundowns lost just one match and conceded 14 goals in 30 matches as they dominated their way to an 11th Premiership title last season. The champions are yet to concede a goal and have collected 10 out of a possible 12 points this season.

Mamelodi Sundowns' early season domination has been downplayed by Rulani Mokwena, who says the champions aren't looking too far ahead of their mouth-watering match against Orlando Pirates in Soweto on Saturday.

Despite early dominance by a team vying for an unprecedented fifth DStv Premiership title in a row and 11th overall since the Premier Soccer League's start in 1996, Mokwena claimed this.

Last season, Sundowns won the Premiership for the 11th time after losing just one match and conceding 14 goals in 30 games. The champs have yet to surrender a goal this season and have accumulated 10 out of a possible 12 points.

Sundowns have won three and drew one of their first four league matches, prompting speculation that they will once again sweep everything before them in 2021-22.

Sundowns have undoubtedly been South Africa's most successful team in recent years, winning four Premiership titles and gold medals in the Caf Champions League (2016) and Caf Super League (2017).

Sundowns have been knocked out in the semi-finals of the Champions League in recent years, and Mokwena agreed that the Brazilians will be put to the ultimate test this season in the Champions League.

“Of course, the Champions League is Mamelodi Sundowns' playground and natural habitat,” Mokwena said after the club beat TS Galaxy 3-0 at Loftus on Sunday to take top of the log.

“Sundowns are a big club, and the Champions League is a big club's stage.

“That is the level we want to be at, but football is such a difficult sport that getting ahead of yourself would cause a lot of issues.

“We work match by match, day by day, and we want to win each and every one of them.

"This means that we have to win every day." Every training session and every rest day must be successful.

"We believe those are crucial training periods in which the diet must be correct, the rest of the players must be correct, and we must win."

“Winning every day puts us in a position to win on game days,” says the coach.

“The amount of effort put in by the technical team in terms of organizing training sessions, preparing for a specific opponent, reviewing previous performances, and ensuring that we remedy our mistakes.”

Sundowns rarely put a foot wrong in their 3-0 win over Galaxy, despite a sluggish first half.

Mokwena said Downs will review the film of their match against Galaxy ahead of their trip to Orlando Stadium on Saturday to see where they can improve.

“We analyze the opposition's flaws and strengths, and the amount of time it takes to prepare for a match also prevents us from getting ahead of ourselves.

“We take it one step at a time, match by match, tournament by competition, without even considering the Champions League.

"Of course, we're keeping an eye on it and know where we'll be for the qualifying round, but our sole emphasis right now is on the Orlando Pirates."

“We rest and recoup and regenerate, analyse the game [against Galaxy] and try to find the areas where we have to improve.

"And we are going to improve, but at the same time we also know we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves.”

Sundowns will confront a Pirates team who have amassed eight points from their two wins and two draws in the opening four matches.

“Pirates is a club built on respect, family values and humility,” said Mokwena, who had a brief stint as Bucs' interim coach the season before last.

“You demonstrate those by paying attention even to the smallest of details by showing a lot of humility every day and working hard, and that is what we focus on.

“We rest, recover, and regenerate, and we analyze the game [against Galaxy] to see where we need to improve.

"And we're going to grow better, but we also realize we can't go too far ahead of ourselves."

Sundowns will face a Pirates side that has eight points after two victories and two draws in their first four games.

“The Pirates are a club built on respect, family values, and humility,” said Mokwena, who served as interim coach for the Bucs last season.

“You display those by paying attention to even the tiniest of details, by demonstrating a great deal of humility every day, and by working hard, and that is what we emphasize.

“So, without getting too far ahead of ourselves, the next match is the most important one for us.”


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