Mamelodi Sundowns head coach Rulani Mokwena is happy with their box-ticking expedition in Europe as they gear up for the new DStv Premiership season.
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The Brazilians won three of their four pre-season friendly matches while in the Netherlands.
The tour started with a 2-2 draw against Belgian Pro League side Gent followed by wins over Dutch top-flight clubs Go Ahead Eagles and Sparta Rotterdam. Mokwena’s charges then rounded off the trip with a 2-1 success over NAC Breda, who play in the Eredivisie.
“It’s good that we also finished the pre-season without any serious injuries so it was a successful pre-season,” Mokwena said.
“In terms of the objectives, we ticked the social integration of new players. Being exposed to different playing styles, we ticked that box too, no injuries and good physical preparations.
“We can only thank the management of this football club, our chairman for allowing us to go into this type of space and experience a very good pre-season. It gave us good facilities, good opposition and a good platform to prepare for what is going to be a very difficult season.”
The league champions’ biggest victory margin was 4-1 win against Rotterdam who finished sixth on the Eredivisie table last season. Mokwena shared lessons learnt from their week and a half stay abroad.
“We went on to play a very difficult game against Go Ahead Eagles,” Mokwena said.
“A very robust, physical and direct team that made us suffer a lot on the pitch. We didn’t have as much possession and we didn’t dominate as much on the pitch but we responded in a way we anticipate the games will go this season.
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“There are games that are going be difficult and there are games that will demand that we adopt certain elements. Particularly from a defensive perspective where we suffered a little bit more but the mentality of committing less mistakes and keeping the team together is something we also spoke about during pre-season so we ticked that box. It was a very good game against Rotterdam where we not only dominated the game but we controlled a lot of the difficulties that the opposition provided us.
“From a tactical perspective, we worked on a lot of things, from schemes that we want to see in and out of possession.”
Mokwena and his players will get their league title defence underway against Sekhukhune United at Peter Mokaba Stadium on Friday.