JOHANNESBURG – His high school teachers saw a lawyer in him, so much so that they convinced his parents that that’s what Rhulani Mokwena should pursue at university.
The Orlando Pirates’ interim coach had other ideas though. He pursued what ran in his blood - football, but not the way his family did it.
The son of Julius “KK” Sono, which makes him Jomo Sono’s nephew and Eric “Scara” Sono’s grandson, chose coaching instead of playing football professionally like his legendary family members.
His family begrudgingly accepted his dream, even when he turned down the Bucs for Silver Stars (who later became Platinum Stars) in North West so that he can make his own name in his own terms. He did that, rising up the ranks to serving as Mamelodi Sundowns and eventually Pirates’ assistant coach.
That was the easy part, building his name to the point that he is regarded as one of the best football minds in the country.
His real challenge has just begun, proving that he was worth the hype and that he is ready to manage a team of Pirates’ stature following the resignation of Micho Sredojevic.
The Serbian’s resignation came as a shock to the system for Pirates, while dealing with that they found themselves in troubled waters following their elimination in the MTN8 and CAF Champions League as well as dropping two points against AmaZulu in the league.
They can’t afford any slip-ups when they take on Golden Arrows tomorrow in Mokwena’s fourth match in charge.
The previous outings have been a struggle, resulting in a team that’s low in confidence.
“Off course confidence is a consequence of results,” Mokwena said. “Wins breed confidence. They have been in short supply at the moment and at the same time goals haven’t been coming.
“We have to take marginal gains. The marginal gain against AmaZulu was a clean sheet. The marginal gain against Green Eagles is that we managed to put one ball in the back of the net from the many chances we created.
“We can do better, we know that we can do better. It is just about finding that victory. We also have to get back to work to find our balance and stability in our game forms. At least the Fifa break comes and allows us to put in some work because we’ve got a very good technical team.
“At this moment we believe that we just need a little bit time on the pitch to stabilise things and to give our players confidence.”
The Fifa break will allow Pirates to breathe. A day after Sredojevic’s resignation they had to take on Highlands Park in the MTN8. Three days later they faced AmaZulu and four days after that they hosted Green Eagles.
“It’s going to sound like excuses if I come here and say that we haven’t had training sessions, we haven’t had time to put together the team,” Mokwena said.
“It’s going to sound like excuses and the Buccaneers are not people of excuses.
“We aren’t people who like to look at the negatives, instead we look at the positives, the marginal gains we have made and we try to move forward. That’s the outlook I have always had in life. I am a very positive person. I try to look at the positive in all negative situations.
We just continue to soldier on and train this muscle of perseverance, face this challenge of adversity and make sure that we come back stronger.”