Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rhulani Mokwena sends out stern warning to rivals after unbeaten start

Mamelodi Sundowns Head coach Rhulani Mokwena feels his team can only get better. Photo: Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)

Mamelodi Sundowns Head coach Rhulani Mokwena feels his team can only get better. Photo: Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)

Published Aug 21, 2023


Despite winning each of their five matches in all competitions since the start of the season, Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rhulani Mokwena says they are still not at their best.

They are top of the standings with 12 points after four games and are in the MTN8 semi-finals, where they will face Kaizer Chiefs, whom they have already beaten in the league.

Sundowns’ latest triumph was on Saturday in Gqeberha as they beat Chippa United 2-0 in the DStv Premiership thanks to two first-half goals, the opener from Aubrey Modiba, and Justice Chabalala’s own goal.

Mokwena remained humble in victory, though, saying they are not yet ready to challenge for all the honours which are up for grabs, including in continental football.

“We are moving with every game, we are getting closer, and once we get minutes in the legs, we will be better,” said Mokwena before adding how every team is looking at them this campaign.

“We have a target on our back, everybody wants to beat us, and it is difficult to be us, but they say, ‘heavy is the head that carries the crown’.”

While Sundowns didn’t create as many chances as they normally would, they still put paid to the comments made by Chippa coach Morgan Mammila during the week.

After managing to hold both Chiefs and Orlando Pirates to draws, Mammila claimed that they’d go toe-to-toe with the champions.

It is a comment that Mokwena didn’t want to speak about because “there are different rules for different coaches”, even though he highlighted the importance of winning in Gqeberha.

“It was a good performance, we played well considering we have so many games at the moment and we don’t get any training time,” Mokwena said.

“There is a lot of regeneration and video analysis; that’s why I am very proud of the players because it is not easy to do what they are doing. To win here was important for us, that’s why I want to give appreciation to this fantastic group of players.”

The group of players Mokwena is talking about is the collective, but it’s also key to note that newbies such as Lucas Ribeiro, Lesiba Nku and Thapelo Maseko are adapting well at the club.

Nku scored a brace against Golden Arrows on Tuesday, while Ribeiro bagged his fourth contribution in the club’s colours by virtue of forcing Chabalala’s own goal against the Chilli Boys.

Mokwena, though, is not taking sole credit for blending his senior players and new men. He also lauded the work of his backroom staff, which includes first assistant coach Manqoba Mngqithi.

“We talk a lot to the players. They probably get tired of me but we talk a lot.

“I also have a lot of help from the technical team because they also talk a lot with them during individual meetings,” he said.

“The biggest reason (for our success is because) they are good human beings. They understand their roles as professionals, they work very hard and understand the importance of consistency.”