Rhulani Mokwena is desperate for results with Orlando Pirates. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
Rhulani Mokwena is desperate for results with Orlando Pirates. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Massive game for Mokwena's future

By minenhle mkhize Time of article published Oct 30, 2019

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Rhulani Mokwena is a likeable, young coach whose elevation to head coach earlier this season was warmly accepted by the Orlando Pirates faithful.

After all, the sharp-witted manager is the grandson of the Soweto giant’s great legend Eric “Scara” Sono, who captained the Buccaneers in the 1960s. Mokwena’s uncle Jomo Sono, who owns Jomo Cosmos, is also an icon of Sea Robbers. His father, Julius, also played for Pirates.

This family legacy with eZimnyama, however, may not be enough to protect him from the wrath of The Ghost should Bucs’ poor form continue against their arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday. The Soweto giants meet in the Telkom Knockout quarter-finals at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium at 3pm and time is running out for Mokwena.

He is in desperate need of a run of good results to ease the pressure. Under his leadership, Pirates have been dumped out of the MTN8 and the CAF Champions League and the Buccaneers are well behind in the title race.

They are 13 points adrift of log leaders Chiefs, who were written off by many before the season began. On the other hand, Pirates topped every bookie’s list as red-hot favourites to end Mamelodi Sundowns’ dominance in the league.

The game on Saturday can go a long way in determining his immediate future. A victory will make him the darling among Pirates supporters but defeat will lead to calls for his head. Pirates have arguably the most potent squad in the league but Mokwena’s lads have been misfiring in every contest, despite a lion’s share of possession.

In the past two matches, Pirates have enjoyed almost 70 percent possession and registered over 50 attempts at goal but scored only once.

After a most promising finish last season, Bucs have gone backwards, starting with the departure of coach Milutin “Micho” Sredjovic at the beginning of the term.

The game on Saturday will present an opportunity to showcase what they are made of. When they needed to beat Highlands Park to reach the MTN8 quarter-finals they succumbed unexpectedly. When they needed to overturn a 1-0 deficit against Green Eagles of Zambia in pan-African competition, they couldn’t find the answer and crashed out of the competition. The Buccaneers also faded against Bidvest Wits in the league, going down 4-3.

Their big match temperament will be put to the test once again this weekend.

If there’s one game that could change their season, it is this one against their arch-rivals. Mokwena will be acutely aware that the 90 minutes against the Glamour Boys is different from the 90 minutes against any other team. Whatever small success he may have enjoyed thus far at Pirates will count for nothing if Chiefs reign supreme.



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