Pitso Mosimane says relegated colleague ‘is going to get better than me’
There is still space in SA football for Rulani Mokwena, Sundowns coach says
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane is planning to call colleague Rulani Mokwena and offer support after the younger mentor was replaced by little-known German Josef Zinnbauer at Orlando Pirates this week.
Mokwena was relegated back to the role of assistant coach after Zinnbauer’s arrival, and Mosimane said he would comfort his “brother”.
“I will give him a call but I know emotions will be different‚” Mosimane said. “I will speak to Rulani and find out how he is feeling and try to advise him as my brother.”
Sundowns face Maritzburg United in the Telkom Knockout final at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday, but Mosimane said he had time for Mokwena.
“He [Mokwena] still has space in SA football‚” he said. “There are coaches who have been here for a very‚ very long time and they have won only one trophy. He must come back ... he didn’t even finish a season.
“When you are not hands-on and working in the background‚ you learn and you improve. You can also do other things because pressure is not on you‚ but he is a very good coach. I said it before that he is going to get better than me and I still believe that.
“I was a coach at SuperSport United for seven years in the PSL [Premier Soccer League] and I left to become an assistant for five years. There is nothing wrong if he is an assistant again, and these are words of encouragement from me to him.”
Mosimane added that Mokwena was not too young to coach Pirates at the age of 32. “What is too young?”
He said Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel “and the other coaches have all come up. There is never too young‚ there is always a balance of ‘are the players accepting and playing for you?’
“You need experience and you also need a little bit of luck to get there‚ let’s be honest. I am happy that he fulfilled his dream and vision because he spoke to me [and said], ‘I want to coach Orlando Pirates’.”
Meanwhile, Maritzburg midfielder Keagan Buchanan‚ who has battled a few career-threatening injuries to be part of coach Eric Tinkler’s team‚ has dismissed suggestions that the KwaZulu-Natal side could be overawed by the occasion.
“No I don’t think so‚” said Buchanan when asked about the possibility of some of his teammates allowing nerves to get the better of them against the more illustrious Sundowns.
“I feel like we’ll give Sundowns the respect [they deserve] because they’ve got a little bit more experience in the sense of cup experience and so forth. But in a game like this you don’t really need motivation. It’s a final against a big team.”
Buchanan made his PSL debut at Bloemfontein Celtic in the 2013/2014 campaign and he made 21 league appearances in a season that displayed his true talents. A knee injury in December 2015 put his career on hold for a long period before he surfaced at Kaizer Chiefs in the 2016/2017 season, when he only featured in six league matches.
Buchanan’s stay at Chiefs was also blighted by injuries and a loss of form. He only played three league matches in 2017/2018 before moving to Maritzburg at the beginning of last season. He featured in just two league matches at Maritzburg before injuries again put his career on hold.
The 27-year-old Cape Town-born attacking midfielder has started this season brightly after recovering‚ with one cup and seven league matches under his belt.
“Coming from injuries is never easy‚” said Buchanan. “Luckily I have the support of the team. The club has been amazing in supporting me and not putting me under pressure‚ and just being there for me. The chair always says that ‘I just want to get you to your best or even better’.
“So it was a bit of an effort to get back into the team. We have a very competitive team but I think I have played about four 90 minutes in a row now‚ so I’m getting back on myself and obviously feeling confident.
“All I just want to do is to contribute to the team as much as possible,” Buchanan said.