Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena has been forced to come out in defence of his players following their 2-1 victory over Sekhukhune United on Tuesday. 

With the Brazilians’ main focus on their CAF Champions League semi-final, where they find themselves a goal down against Tunisia’s Esperance from the first leg, Mokwena fielded a much-changed team against Babina Noko.

Sundowns made a super start against Lehlohonolo Seema’s in-form side, with Tashreeq Matthews on target after just a minute before Thapelo Morena made it two with his goal just six minutes later.

Chibuike Ohizu then pulled a goal back from the penalty spot with five second-half minutes played but Sundowns were ultimately full value for the win.

Some fans were of a different opinion though, as they booed the likes of Brian Onyano, who was adjuged to have committed the foul for the penalty, after an unsuccesful attempt at playing the ball out from the back, although replays suggest the decision was a bit harsh.

Reflecting on the treatment from the club’s fans, Mokwena said on SuperSport: “Sundowns supporters must believe in the style of play.

“We’ve worked too hard to build this. And in fact, this is the culture of the team. I say to the players all the time, I say, ‘we don’t have – like all the other big teams – we don’t have the age, the history, in relation to how long of a club, we’re not the oldest club. So in terms of history and pedigree, the others have [that]. The one special thing we have is our style of play’.

“And now if the Sundowns supporters start to panic on the players, what’s going to happen, these players must make mistakes. And football is a game of mistakes, but it’s a game of mistakes to be corrected, not a game of mistakes to panic, and, and it will never happen.

“Everybody makes mistakes at his job. But it’s mistakes that help you to grow your character, you become a better person when you learn from them.

“And then the supporters have got to support them, and encourage them. And that’s the only thing I was pleading for.

“So sometimes I get the feeling that they put them under so much pressure. And yet these kids are doing so much for them. They die for them, they run for them, they sacrifice for them, they do everything for them. And these boys deserve even special recognition for the effort they are doing.”