Mngqithi: Rhulani was unlucky at Pirates

Rhulani Mokwena (Gallo Images)
Rhulani Mokwena (Gallo Images)

Rhulani Mokwena was unlucky during his four-month spell in charge of Orlando Pirates, says Mamelodi Sundowns assistant coach Manqoba Mngqithi.

The two were once part of a dream technical team under head coach Pitso Mosimane before Mokwena "went home" to Pirates, his father Julius "KK" Sono’s old club, as part of Milutin "Micho" Sredojevic’s coaching setup.

When Sredojevic left abruptly last August, Mokwena took the reins and fielded bullets of criticism both on and off the field. Mokwena was replaced by German Josef Zinnbauer by December.

"His team was playing very good football and it looked like it would only be a matter of time before the team turned the corner," Mngqithi told Sport24.

"In South Africa, we don’t have much patience with our coaches. If you look at what Zinnbauer is doing, you could easily be convinced that he has done such a good job in a short space of time.

"But we technicians always question: what if what we’re are seeing now is because of the foundations Rhulani and 'Micho' had laid before him?

"Rhulani was a little unfortunate, to be honest, with some of the results. His team was playing exceptional football but they were missing a lot of chances. They were solid defensively but the lack of goals let them down a little bit."

During Mokwena’s term as interim coach, the Buccaneers had a stretch where they won just three games in 12. It resulted in Bucs chairman Irvin Khoza losing faith with the coaching protégé and bringing in a more experienced import.

Mokwena, 33, took his skills to Port Elizabeth-based outfit Chippa United, which could be interpreted by some as jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. "Fired" is owner Chippa Mpengesi’s favourite word to his coaches and Mokwena could face further turmoil once football resumes.

"I really wish he does well at Chippa and stamps his authority," said Mngqithi, who was once on the receiving end of the trigger-happy United chairman.

"He is one of our young coaches that have a very bright future. He’s a very good coach and I do not want to take that away from him.

"I believe he’s got even more potential, but this football life has its own way of teaching us one or two things. And I believe he has learnt a few things from his experience at Pirates and now he’s got a realistic chance to do well at Chippa.

"He must just keep his feet on the ground. He has what it takes to come back and lead the team (Pirates) in future but he has to look at some of the things that made him not to succeed at Pirates."

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