Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Orlando Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic says his outspoken assistant Rulani Mokwena will become the Alex Ferguson of the Soweto club.

The Serbian-born coach successfully guided his Bucs troops to a second successive league win over Kaizer Chiefs in the Soweto derby on Saturday and was asked if he planned to emulate Ferguson and remain with the club for many years.

Ferguson was Manchester United manager for 26 years and led the English Premier League club to 38 major trophies during his stay.

“This is a bit too much for me. Pirates will be much more after me,” Sredojevic said.

“I have been lucky‚ blessed and privileged to be in this position. I don’t want to think anything beyond the next match,” he said.

Instead, Sredojevic suggested‚ without mentioning his name‚ that his deputy is capable of becoming the Ferguson of Pirates‚ pointing to his age and coaching acumen as reasons for the endorsement.

“It is not fair to talk about this because it is very‚ very far [in the future]‚” he said. “But besides me there is a person [Mokwena] that I believe one day‚ when like in the relay in athletics‚ I will give the baton to him and he will go all the way.

“He [Mokwena] will last as long as Alex Ferguson [at Man United],” Sredojevic said.

To the gathered media there was no doubt as to who Sredojevic was referring to.

“I will not talk about whom but you can guess‚” said a smiling Sredojevic. “It’s nice to see that we are working well and he [Mokwena] is growing. I’m so proud and privileged to work with him,” Sredojevic said. Mokwena attracted the most attention in the days leading up to the derby after he suggested early last week that the Chiefs bench, led by Italian coach Giovanni Solinas, is not as strong as it was during former mentor Steve Komphela’s time at Naturena.

Meanwhile, though Mokwena had said that Chiefs striker Leonardo Castro would not only miss the derby but was probably relaxing with his wife in Colombia following an ankle injury that had kept him out of action for a month before the match, he ended up playing 74 minutes on Saturday. But his performance was way below par with his gingerly walk at the best of times suggesting he was far from full recovery.