Rhulani Mokwena coach of Orlando Pirates during the MTN8 2019 Quarter Final match against Highlands Park Sporting on Saturday. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Pitso Mosimane and Owen da Gama have backed Rhulani Mokwena to succeed at Orlando Pirates after he was thrown in the deep end following Micho Sredojevic’s sudden resignation.

The Serbian coach left the Buccaneers in a ditch with his resignation on Friday, on the eve of their MTN8 clash with Highlands Park. Pirates lost that match 1-0, taking to three the games they have lost in a row since being handed defeats by Green Eagles in the CAF Champions League and SuperSport United in the league.

Sredojevic ditched Pirates to join Egyptian giants Zamalek.

Mokwena and Bucs have no time to wallow in their misery. Tonight, they visit AmaZulu in Umlazi and on the weekend they host Green Eagles in the return leg. It’s a challenging time that will test his mental strength as he has to unite the team so that they can pull together after losing a coach they loved.

Mokwena’s other challenge will be to tighten things at the back with a leaky defence that has been exposed.

“He has been looking for this opportunity and he got it,” Mosimane said. “He must just fly. I told you guys a long time ago, when he was still next to me that I think that he is going to be better than me in the future. You know how football is. He still has to travel the road.

He must never worry about the loss (against Highlands). It’s part of football. I have also lost three games in a row, and when that happens people start talking.”

The clash with AmaZulu will see Mokwena come up against one of the coaches he respects, Cavin Johnson. The pair worked together at the now defunct Silver Stars. Mokwena speaks highly of Johnson, who is part of a number of respectable coaches who have shaped him to be the coach that he is today.

“I just hope that it mustn’t get to a situation where people say, ‘See, we told you that he can’t do it as a head coach?’ You know how life is,” Mokwena said. “I hope that you are going him to give him a chance. (Lehlohonolo) Seema was also given a chance”

Da Gama sympathised with Mokwena after Highlands’ victory over the Sea Robbers. The Lions of the North coach has previously managed the Soweto giants. He understands the pressure of leading a club whose supporters were described by Sredojevic as one of the most demanding in the continent.

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“I think that Rhulani is capable enough to steer the ship. There is still a bit of continuity in that regard,” Da Gama said. “He understands the dynamics. He understands how the family at Orlando Pirates works.

He is very capable of making great success of Orlando Pirates. The only thing that I can say to him, take it! I believe that he can do it, and he will do it.

The only thing that he must do is do what he does best.”

Bonginkosi Ndadane