Bringing the cup home
Bringing the cup home

Posted in News on Dec 03, 2001.

By Muhsin Ertugral

We are all in a celebratory mood after our victory in the Mandela Cup. We made a promise to deliver the cup home for former president Nelson Mandela.

We delivered the trophy against all odds. A lot of people never gave us a chance. We were written off very early in the campaign. But we did it and we achieved that success with limited manpower at some stages.

And I very grateful to my players for their commitment throughout the campaign. A special thanks to management for their support throughout as without them we could have never achieved this success.

It was not about money as there is no prize money in this competition but about the honour of representing the country in continental competition.

The players also got something out of this process as they gained a lot of experience playing against some of the toughest clubs in the continent. It is the kind of experience we will need in our quest to win the domestic championship.

Coming back to the game against Inter Luanda, many people felt we should have scored a lot of goals. I also agree but it was not possible as the players we all in a hurry to do things. You might have seen after 10 minutes into the game I stood up and tried to tell the boys to slow down and enjoy the game.

Nevertheless, it was a good game and all the players showed great commitment and we are happy to deliver on our promise. One thing though, the Angolans seemed to believe that we only won because of the penalty.

I need to point out that we could have still won the match despite the penalty as we scored an important away goal in the first leg. We now look forward to the Super Cup and we hope Sundowns win the Champions League so that the cup can be played here at home.

As you know me, I am now focused on our next game. Yesterday’s achievement is now water under the bridge. We have set standards and the major challenge is to maintain that standard.

The players are mentally and physically drained but we have enough players to select from as we focus on the league. I believe players like Lucky Maselesele, Gerald Sibeko, Nhlanhla Mathebula and Rodney Thobejane are ready to take up the challenge.

We also have a couple of youngsters coming up from the development academy. I will be looking at those boys as time goes on and we might start introducing them next season.

We are now focused on the league championship and as I said our greatest challenge at this stage is to keep up the momentum. We have set our selves high standards and we must live up to our reputation.

Finally about the World Cup draw, I think it is now up to the national technical committee to start analysing Bafana Bafana’s opponents, as I believe there are no easy opponents in the World Cup.

It would be a great mistake to underestimate teams like Slovenia and Paraguay as they could surprise in the World Cup. Both these nations have quality sides and they must be taken seriously and treated with great respect.

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