Absa Premiership

Mokwena suspends Komphela friendship for Soweto derby

Steve Komphela (Gallo Images)
Steve Komphela (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Orlando Pirates assistant coach Rhulani Mokwena has put on hold his friendship with Kaizer Chiefs head coach Steve Komphela ahead of Saturday's Soweto derby.

The pair's relationship dates back to 2009, when they worked together at Platinum Stars. During their time at Dikwena, Komphela promoted Mokwena from under-19 coach to assistant first-team coach.

However, as the two men prepare for a fiery encounter between second and third in the Premiership standings, Mokwena's relationship with Komphela is the last thing on his mind.

"I’ve got a very good relationship with the head coach of Kaizer Chiefs," said Mokwena.

"I think when you go through your apprenticeship as a coach, partnerships become extremely important. The people you meet on your path contribute towards setting you up either for success or failure.

"I think possibly one of the most important role players in my career as a coach was coach Steve."

The pair parted ways in 2010 but, according to Mokwena, Komphela has tried on numerous occasions to revive their professional relationship.

"While I was still at Sundowns, I would get job offers from Steve to come and assist him. He almost went to Chippa United and he called me from Maritzburg to come and assist," he revealed

"Unfortunately, at that time, the situation wasn’t right because I was already deeply entrenched into Sundowns, with a lot of responsibility at the club."

Mokwena eventually left Sundowns for the Buccaneers in August and has since impressed Pirates head coach Milutin Sredojevic, who has tipped him as a possible successor.

Come Saturday, Mokwena is left in no doubt as to which of the two head coaches at the FNB Stadium his loyalty will lie with.

"The focus for us is getting three points and, as I told the players in camp, I’ve blocked [Komphela] from my phone. I’m not receiving any calls, WhatsApp messages or whatever from Steve - and he knows we are rivals for the next seven days."

Kick-off is at 15:30.