Mokwena enjoys chairman Khoza’s support
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DURBAN – Orlando Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza believes that Rhulani Mokwena will go on to be as successful a coach as one of his mentors, Pitso Mosimane.
Mokwena is enduring rough ride in his new role as the Buccaneers’ coach since taking over from Micho Sredojevic, who resigned abruptly last month. Defeats and elimination from competitions have characterised the start of the 35-year-old’s reign.
But Khoza has been in the game long enough to spot potential in a coach and is hopeful Mokwena will go on to become one of the country’s most celebrated coaches.
“Pitso was given an opportunity an early age and he didn’t fail. He exploited the opportunity and never looked back. Hopefully, Rhulani will also exploit his (opportunity).”
While admitting that coaching Pirates is a different kettle of fish from leading SuperSport United for example where Mosimane cut his coaching teeth when he was 37 years old, Khoza is of the view that Mokoena has the qualities necessary to make it.
“It is not an easy job this. You need to have a certain kind of temperament. But Rhulani is a very hard-working young man who loves his football. He is very passionate and he works smart.”
“He needs to understand his team - that is both the technical team and his players. He has to learn all those elements. He must understand that at Pirates, it is not about you but it is about the team. You have to get the team behind you and understand your competition.”
Many have suggested that Mokwena’s youthful exuberance could be his downfall, but Khoza is of the view the chance has to be provided to everyone no matter their age. “It is not about age. Everyone who raises his hand up must be given opportunities. It is not about years. You don’t live by the years...
“Modern football has a lot of challenges. You have to research and analyse in order to have a competitive edge over your rivals. You must learn quickly and keep up with the rest of the world.”
And that is something Mokwena is known for, he is continuously learning about the game and keeping in contact with renowned coaches such as Pep Guardiola. That Mokwena has learnt from Mosimane, whom he assisted for years at Mamelodi Sundowns, should help in the long run. To do that though, he will have to quickly start delivering results at a club that for whom success has been as rare as ice in the Sahara in recent years.