Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Tebogo Mokoena says the humid conditions in Dar-es-Salaam coupled with the unavailability of key players attributed to the team underperforming in the first leg quarterfinal of the CAF Champions League. 

Sundowns struggled to assert dominance in front of a packed Benjamin Mkapa Stadium, and eventually settled for a goalless draw. 

Seven of Sundowns players travelled to Tanzania after playing for Bafana Bafana in the FIFA friendly Series matches against Andorra and Algeria. 

Aubrey Modiba was introduced in the 13th minute after an injury to Bongani Zungu, while Themba Zwane missed out due to accumulated three yellow cards in the group stages. 

Mokoena believes the conditions in Dar-es-Salaam made it tough to assert their usual gameplan. 

“It’s tough. I said it before in the conference and it played out exactly the way we had spoken about it. Good team, well coached and they are always going to be tough. I think we can be better but we were all right. 

“Under the conditions, the pitch, the humidity, also playing at an odd time (9pm) also not having all our players to prepare for the game. All right, it is what it is and now we’ve got to look and see how best we can prepare for the second leg,” Mokoena told the media after the game. 

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The combative midfielder admitted Sundowns struggles to impose their usual style of play. 

“We lacked a bit of compactness and couldn’t really get our foot on the ball and play with a bit more control and dominate the game. We lost too many duels, we lost too many second balls. 

“We had to address that at halftime. We looked a bit better in the second half where I think we played with a bit more intensity and tried to go forward. 

“But we played against a good team. We knew it was going to be difficult and regardless of what the scoreline would be we were going have to win in Pretoria, and it remains the same,” Mokoena added. 

Mokoena also credited Yanga’s gameplan but is confident they can do better in the second leg on Friday. 

“I think a bit of both. They’re a good side. I thought we defended well for most parts of the game. 

“And to keep an attack with Musonda, Mzize, Stephane and Maxi and not give them too many chances is good. 

“But we could have done more to create more chances and the final pass didn’t come. But OK, let’s see how we go and try to improve in the second leg. 

“I still have to speak to the players about my feeling, and I normally reserve that for the players first before I speak to the media. 

“But of course we can play better, use the ball better. Even if we had won I would still say to you it’s only halftime and we have to play better in the second leg,” said Mokoena. 

Sundowns are set to face Richards Bay in a league encounter today before facing Yanga in Pretoria on Friday.