Rhulani Mokwena is under immense pressure at Orlando Pirates as he hopes to steer the team in the right direction after a tough start. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Steve Komphela believes Rhulani Mokwena can only get better due to the tough experience he is currently enduring as Orlando Pirates coach.

Mokwena is struggling to produce positive results in his maiden job as a head coach having taken over from Micho Sredejovic, who quit a few matches into the new season.

Under Mokwena, Pirates have failed to live up to the pre-season hype that this was the campaign in which they will finally come right after four trophy-less seasons and successive runners-up finishes in the league.

They have been knocked out of the MTN8, the CAF Champions League and most recently the Telkom Knockout and have also lost their five-year unbeaten run to arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs.

Calls for the young coach to be relieved of his duties are intensifying and the pressure is looking to get to him as evidenced by his angry outburst after Saturday’s league defeat to Chiefs.

Komphela can relate and has been advising Mokwena to soak it all up as it will make him a better coach.

“Rhulani is in an environment where it is not easy. I know very well what he is going through,” Komphela said.

“It is not easy but we always talk. We tell him to listen and focus. It is a great honour and a privilege to be there. So enjoy it and do your job so that after two years, you can say ‘I was at Pirates’.”

Komphela coached Chiefs for nearly three years and endured similar pressure as what is being brought to bear on Mokwena.

He failed to deliver any silverware in that time and even had to quit the job shortly before his contract was about to end.

“You don’t sleep there (at Pirates). If you sleep, you are lucky. When I left the environment I was at (at Chiefs) I had grey hair. When I went there I was pitch black ... but by the time I left it wasn’t the same. But that’s growth,” Komphela said.

“The greatest growth happens in discomfort. If you don’t want to grow, be comfortable. But if you want to grow, get into a territory that is uncomfortable.

“I wouldn’t have been the person that I am when I went to Bloemfontein Celtic had I not gone through that. I wouldn’t have been the person I am at Arrows if I didn’t go through that.

“I never got bitter but I got better so that others can benefit. I was in a pressure cooker. I was cooked and somebody is enjoying the meal and I’m being dished.

“But who is enjoying it, it is Arrows. And so be it. That’s how I look at it.”


The Mercury