Rulani Mokwena helped guide Orlando Pirates to second place in the Premiership this season. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG - Orlando Pirates assistant coach Rulani Mokwena is not getting carried away by murmurings that the likes of SuperSport United and Polokwane City are keen to have him as their coach.

“When I grew up, I used to go shopping with my mother and I used to say I want that and that but she would slap my hand and say ‘that’s not for you’,’’ Mokwena said as he responded to the rumours.

“In life there are things that we want but we can’t get,’’ he said. “At the end of the day, God directs our path and He says: ‘it’s not the time’. There are certain things that people want, and there are certain things they can’t get.’’

It is not a surprise that Mokwena is sought after. After all he enjoyed a good season with Pirates where he and head coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic steered the Buccaneers’ ship to second-place in the league.

Joining the Buccaneers was a home-coming for Mokwena given that his father Julius Sono, uncle Jomo and grandfather Eric donned the famous black and white jersey of the club. Hence Mokwena says that the time for him to leave the club hasn’t yet come.

On his first full season with the club he said: “There has been a lot of growth and lessons learnt. I’m humbled to be given the responsibility to wear the same badge as my father, uncle and grandfather. I find a lot of solace and peace knowing I am contributing to something bigger than myself. I am extremely happy at Orlando Pirates.’’

The second place finish earned Pirates a Caf Champions League spot. African champions in 1995, they have generally done well in continental football - reaching the semifinals in 2006 and 2013 and being finalists of the Caf Confederation Cup in 2015. With such pedigree, Mokwena reckons it only makes sense that the Bucs are back on the African scene.

“It’s a playground that Orlando Pirates belongs on,’’ he enthused. “It is nothing that we should celebrate but it is a recollection that Pirates deserves to be playing in the battle-field.”

For Mokwena though, his success in continental football is still fresh as he was Pitso Mosimane’s assistant at Sundowns when they became continental champions in 2016. Although, Sredojevi and Mokwena have tasted African triumphs, the latter is adamant that a collective approach from the team is what will help them conquer the continent.

“It’s not about individuals, it’s about Pirates that has had greater success in Africa,’’ he said. “It’s a collective approach because one man’s experience will not carry 50 million hopes - it’s too heavy for his shoulder s- it is about Pirates. 

"One other most important thing at this point in time is to improve our team, and part of doing that is putting them in environments where they’ll be stretched and stimulated to take their football careers to another level.’’

The Star

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