Rhulani Mokwena, co-coach of Mamelodi Sundowns. Picture: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
Rhulani Mokwena, co-coach of Mamelodi Sundowns. Picture: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Mamelodi Sundowns’ Rhulani Mokwena has friends with MTN8 final benefits

By Mihlali Baleka Time of article published Oct 27, 2021

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Johannesburg - Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Rhulani Mokwena has banked on the experience of colleagues Manqoba Mngqithi and Steve Komphela and his players to help them prevail in the MTN8 final against Cape Town City on Saturday night.

After a bright start to the campaign, the Brazilians reached the MTN8 final following wins over Kaizer Chiefs and Golden Arrows in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, respectively.

ALSO READ: PSL may open up MTN8 final at Moses Mabhida Stadium to fans as a ’pilot project’

But this is uncharted territory for the 11-time league champions.

They are yet to win the competition in 14 years, while they lost their two finals to Chiefs and defunct Bidvest Wits in 2008 and 2016, respectively.

But that’s been their only miss in almost a decade after bagging six league titles and a host of trophies.

It’s still early days, but Sundowns appear to be hell-bent on scooping their fifth league title in a row as they sit four points clear at the top of the standings.

But what will be a morale booster to them is claiming the MTN8 crown against Cape Town City at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban this weekend.

Mngqithi and Komphela know cup finals well.

Mngqithi, as a coach, won the MTN8 with Golden Arrows, while Komphela has been in various finals with different clubs in his coaching career. Most of the players have won several finals with Sundowns or with their previous clubs over the years.

“If we have to personalise the question with the lack of experience with cup finals, then the good thing is that we have the experience that Manqoba and Steve have as head coaches with cup finals,” Mokwena said yesterday.

“We have the experience of the players that we have in dealing with cup finals. We are very blessed in that space. The players have played games of consequence, and they know what games of consequence mean for the club and its history.”

He continued: “They know what it means for us to put this one to bed – for the club. It is one trophy that over the years we haven’t won.

“It’s a trophy that we are motivated by the desire of reaching our goals, not by the pressure. Those are different.”

Earmarked as one of the young coaches who’ll succeed, Mokwena would be heading in that direction if they claim the ‘Wafa Wafa’ cup.

And that would mean he was able to do what his mentor Pitso Mosimane failed to achieve.

But Mokwena says he’s not competing with Mosimane, who won many trophies during his time with the Brazilians. Instead, he’s focused on achieving his own goals, while he respects Mosimane’s work at the helm.

“It’s a trophy that many others didn’t win, not just coach Pitso. His CV speaks for itself, the work that he’s done. I always say I am not in competition with coach Pitso. I can’t be looking at winning things because he didn’t,” he said.

“At the end, it’s also not an individual thing. The leadership of the club from a technical perspective means that there’s more than one coach in our space. So, to personalise and put it about me becomes a bit of a difficult space to be in.”

He added: “Huge respect for the work that coach Pitso has done at Mamelodi Sundowns and the trophies that he’s won.

“Of course, that’s the focus, we want to continue with the legacy that has been left behind at the club by various people.”

@Mihlalibaleka

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