JOHANNESBURG – ‘Micho’ and Mokwena are onto something special.
I read that these two senior members of the Orlando Pirates technical team consider themselves brothers and don’t care much for titles.
Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic is the head coach of the Buccaneers and Rhulani Mokwena is his second in command, but they sing in unison from the same hymn sheet that their world would come crashing down if one ever contradicted the other.
It’s the kind of telepathy that is beginning to become apparent at the right time at this stage of this Absa Premiership campaign.
Mokwena has never come across as a yes man, and Sredojevic’s character is such that he would never allow any of his assistants to just make up the numbers in the dugout.
Soon after arriving to take over the reins at Pirates back in August and Mokwena was lured away from Mamelodi Sundowns where he was the second assistant coach (behind Manqoba Mngqithi) to Pitso Mosimane, Sredojevic spoke glowingly about a bright prospect, suggesting he’d been following his progress long before his return to South Africa.
“When talking about Rhulani, I talk about a person who has been to 51 out of 55 African football countries,” said Sredojevic when the appointment was made.
I had no clue the young coach was such an explorer, but somehow ‘Micho’ did.
“As a searcher, he (Mokwena) knows when the ball is kicked in Botola Pro in Morocco or PSL in South Africa from up to down.
“As a searcher, I have to tell you that in my personal judgment: commitment, dedication, passion that I have seen in Rhulani Mokwena is something to me that I have rarely met.
“I regard him in the top five of the African upcoming coaches because I know all of them that are in his age and his line of bright future.
“As a searcher, I would say he has come here for two aspects, aspect one being that this club is in his blood.
“In a footballing aspect, he has all the expertise and experience that he got working with the reigning best coach in Africa and my big brother for the last 15 years, Pitso Mosimane.”
It took sometime before their “project” could lift off - and perhaps there is still a lot of work to be done considering Pirates haven’t won a trophy yet since Sredojevic arrived.
But you need not look any further than Sunday’s 4-2 mauling of Chippa United, their input and use of players that have been brought in throughout the season, as well as how quickly they have turned the corner in their conversion rate in front of goals to see that this is a technical team on a mission.
Pirates need this to work - and quite desperately so.
How the mighty Buccaneers had been reduced to a mid-table team last season, chopping and changing coaches, was painful to watch. In Sredojevic and Mokwena there is longevity, although there are no guarantees at a club of this magnitude when there is no success.
Ask rival coach Steve Komphela, whose tenure at Kaizer Chiefs has been under threat from the day he walked in more than two years ago and has not been able to win a single trophy.
Pirates have had nine different coaches in the last decade and only one - Dutchman Ruud Krol - was able to see out the entire length of his contract.
The camaraderie between Sredojevic and Mokwena needs to be backed by success, and I wish them well.