PSL / 7 November 2019, 11:00am / Matshelane Mamabolo
JOHANNESBURG – Rulani Mokwena’s nonchalance despite his failure to get Orlando Pirates out of the rot they find themselves in is testament to the young coach’s naivety with regards to the nature of the job he is in.
Following yet another disappointing result, this time a goalless draw against Maritzburg United in the Absa Premiership on Tuesday night, Mokwena was all philosophical as he reviewed the clash.
He referred to his team’s failure to convert their chances as perhaps being a sign of their faith in him.
“My middle name is Mlungisi and it seems these boys are testing me to see how much I can fix.”
So far though, Mokwena has done very little fixing - what with the Buccaneers having been knocked out of all competitions they have been involved in since he took over from Micho Sredejovic early into the new season.
Mokwena’s rich connection to the club is common knowledge.
His grandfather (Eric Scara Sono), father (Julius KK Sono) and uncle (Ephraim Jomo Sono) are Pirates legends who served the Sea Robbers with distinction as players. Club chairman Irvin Khoza is a sentimentalist who puts a premium on loyalty and no doubt he has the softest of spots for Mokwena.
That much is evidenced by the fact he has given the young coach the top job without him having proven himself before. And the Iron Duke has patiently allowed the former Mamelodi Sundowns assistant coach to prove himself.
This though was supposed to be a season of delivery for a Pirates side that was painstakingly rebuilt in two seasons by the likeable Serbian Sredejovic who left the club in a huff.
And the fact that Mokwena had been part of that rebuilding process would suggest he should at least be carrying on where Micho left off, making Pirates competitive.
Instead, under Mokwena Pirates are huffing and puffing about - playing some good attacking football but failing to win on a consistent basis.
Such can only be tolerated to a certain extent and the sooner Mokwena gets that and delivers the better.
He would do well to start by putting one over bitter rivals Kaizer Chiefs who knocked them out of the Telkom Knockout in what was Pirates' first loss to the arch-enemies in four seasons.
The two sides clash in a league encounter on Saturday and to say the game is a must win for Mokwena will be putting it mildly.
There is a coach out there waiting on the wings. A coach who has a special place in not only the club’s faithful’s hearts but one who is a huge favourite of Khoza.
Benni MCarthy has just been fired by Cape Town City following the club’s poor form. But that fact does not undo McCarthy’s reputation as a very good young coach any harm. And given he has already proven himself capable of delivering silverware, he currently looks a better bet than Mokwena to lead the Buccaneers.
Add to that the fact he was influential in Pirates’ hugely successful spell when he returned from Europe to complete his playing career here at home, and you have a coach who is likely to command more respect from the players than the current incumbent.
Rulani better start delivering or Benni could get into the area, and he's a deadly finisher.