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Forget the Benni McCarthy Manchester United hype, Mamelodi Sundowns' Mokwena deserves more respect

01:42 EAT 20/01/2023
Mokwena, Benni McCarthy
The Masandawana head coach will be leading his team into battle against Kaizer Chiefs in a league encounter on Saturday night.

While Benni McCarthy is rightfully receiving praise at Manchester United, Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rhulani Mokwena is quietly yet relentlessly getting on with business.

McCarthy has been receiving plaudits for his work with the Manchester United strikers, in particular his assistance in reviving Marcus Rashford.

Now employed at one of the biggest clubs in the world, it's not too likely that McCarthy will be returning home any time soon and it seems for the short to medium term future, the likes of Orlando Pirates and Bafana Bafana have missed out on the chance to hire Benni.

One of Bafana Bafana's greatest ever strikers, and the nation's leading goalscorer, McCarthy will always command a high level of respect.

On the other hand, as someone who is not a legendary ex-player, Mokwena has had to forge his reputation from scratch. Now, since being given the Sundowns job as his own, it's Mokwena's time to grab the limelight.

Extremely bright and articulate, his tv interviews show off a wealth of knowledge and he offered some fascinating insights while working as a pundit during the World Cup.
His strong communication skills will also be an asset in the changeroom and on the training pitch.
Whether it's tactics, latest football trends, or the mental and motivational side of knowing what makes players tick, Mokwena is a real student of the game who in his preparation, clearly seems to dot his i's and crossed his t's.

Because he's at South Africa's richest club, there is a school of thought that he has an easy job, with all the talent at his disposal.

However, that's not really the case, because he still has to manage egos, keep players who are not playing happy, and every time Sundowns step out to play, the opposition are extra motivated to try and bring down the PSL's top dogs.
The man who must have learnt a lot from his former mentor Pitso Mosimane, seems intent on driving Downs to even higher standards rather than resting of laurels.

Mokwena had his critics from his time in charge of Orlando Pirates and there were those who thought that Manqoba Mngqithi's demotion from Sundowns co-coach to assistant may have made things difficult for Mokwena.

However, he's taken it all in his stride and is in the process of breaking the PSL record for the most number of league matches won in a row - this week's victory over SuperSport United made it 11 wins in succession, equalising Downs' own record in the 2006/07 season under Gordon Igesund.

Mokwena no doubt has big ambitions, probably to win the Caf Champions League and perhaps to coach abroad. One can only hope that Safa have already pencilled him in as a future Bafana Bafana coach.

Remarkably, he's still only 36 years old and is just getting started - surely Mokwena is on course for greatness and is set to make South Africans proud. Let's appreciate this exciting young coach.