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Mamelodi Sundowns coach Mokwena unbothered by critics - 'I’m respected abroad but not at home'

22:14 EAT 18/01/2023
Rhulani Mokwena, Mamelodi Sundowns, October 2022
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rhulani Mokwena has claimed that his work gets more appreciation from Europe and not in South Africa.
  • Mokwena hit out at critics & Sundowns’ detractors
  • Tactician said he’s more respected in Europe than at home
  • Sundowns enjoy a 14-point lead after 11 wins in a row

WHAT HAPPENED? Mokwena’s tactical acumen has been questioned in some quarters with critics pointing to his unsuccessful stint as caretaker coach of Orlando Pirates as proof that he is not good enough and only helped by quality players.

Sundowns are currently on course to making it six straight league titles as they enjoy a 14-point lead over second-placed Richards Bay, having won 11 straight games, but their success has also been described as ‘bought’ due to their big spending power.

SuperSport United coach Gavin Hunt was the latest to point to the Brazilians’ deep pockets, claiming ‘even their kit man earns more than his players’ but Mokwena is unbothered, saying his work has not gone unnoticed by some of the world’s top coaches.

WHAT DID HE SAY? “I belong to a WhatsApp group where there are CEOs of big companies internationally, there are coaches who are coaching at the highest level,” Mokwena said as quoted by SNL24.

“I’m learning, I’m asking questions and as long as I have the mentality, for sure the opinions of people will never make a difference to the way I look at myself, how I look at the team and my work.

“I know my record at Pirates would be the first thing that people talk about before they speak about my record as head coach of Mamelodi Sundowns.

“For sure and that’s the truth but it doesn’t bother me. You know what is so ironic, it is the amount of appreciation and respect from coaches from Europe.

“I’m on that page. There is a page called MAS Possession. It’s a page run by technocrats, it is based in Italy and they posted on their stories some of the teams in the world and some of the coaches.

“They said: ‘Teams that globally play position and possession football’ and you know where we were? Sundowns was there and because Sundowns was there, by default I got to be there.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Mokwena took over as a co-coach alongside Manqoba Mngqithi in 2020 following the departure of Pitso Mosimane to Egyptian giants Al Ahly, winning two league titles, and was made the sole head coach of the team this season before the start of their current brilliant run.

The Brazilians have been playing an attacking brand of football that has made life difficult for their opponents during their 11-match winning run which has seen them concede just two goals.

WHAT’S NEXT? Mokwena can further enhance his reputation if he manages to do the double over Kaizer Chiefs in Saturday’s encounter at the FNB Stadium.