Highlands Park head coach Owen da Gama. Picture: GALLO IMAGES
Highlands Park head coach Owen da Gama. Picture: GALLO IMAGES

Highlands Park coach Owen da Gama is convinced Orlando Pirates counterpart Rulani Mokwena is ready to step up to the plate and assume the coaching seat vacated by Milutin Sredojevic on a permanent basis.

Sredojevic resigned in a bombshell announcement by Pirates on Friday and Mokwena — Sredojevic’s assistant at Bucs — started as caretaker coach with a 1-0 MTN8 quarterfinal loss to Highlands on Saturday night‚ having had less than a day in the job.

Da Gama‚ himself a former Pirates head coach‚ gave his backing to Mokwena and said he was ready to take over the demanding job.

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“I think Rulani is very‚ very capable‚” Da Gama said. “He understands the dynamics‚ he understands how the family in Orlando Pirates works and he’s very capable of making a great success of Pirates.

“So the only thing that I can say to him is that he must take it. I believe he can do it and I think he will do it.”

Highlands attacking midfielder and substitute Wayde Jooste scored the only goal of the match after an excellent cross from former Pirates striker Tendai Ndoro in the 80th minute.

Pirates have yet to say whether a new head coach will be sought or if Mokowena‚ who is the son of Julius “KK” Sono, Bucs legend Jomo Sono’s nephew and Eric “Scara” Sono’s grandson‚ will assume the seat on a permanent basis.

Da Gama also reflected on his relationship with Sredojevic and said they formed a formidable rapport over the past few years.

“We were very close with coach Micho and Rulani. We have created a very good relationship over the years‚” said Da Gama.

“It’s not nice when you get news like that [Sredojevic’s departure]. You don’t wish that to happen to anybody.”