Orlando Pirates assistant coach Rulani Mokwena: ANESH DEBIKY / GALLO IMAGES
Orlando Pirates assistant coach Rulani Mokwena: ANESH DEBIKY / GALLO IMAGES

The mystery over the status of Orlando Pirates assistant coach Rulani Mokwena has deepened after the club said it does not know where he is or how long he will be on leave.

Mokwena, one of Pirates’ two assistant coaches with Fadlu Davids, remains on leave, Bucs’ administrative manager Floyd Mbele said.

 “We don’t know where he is. We don’t know when he will be back,” Mbele said.

Mokwena took over as Pirates’ caretaker coach when head coach Milutin Sredojevic abruptly left the club three games into the 2019-20 campaign.

He struggled for results and, on December 10, Josef Zinnbauer, a former Hamburger SV and St Gallen coach new to the Premier Soccer League (PSL), was appointed head coach.

Mokwena sat on the bench as assistant to Zinnbauer in the German’s first match — a 3-1 Premiership victory against Black Leopards at Orlando Stadium on December 21. Mokwena has since been on leave for almost six weeks.

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane, who had Mokwena as his assistant when Downs won the 2016 Caf Champions League, said in mid-January that in his understanding Mokwena had gone on a coaching course in Europe.

Mbele said Pirates have no knowledge of this. “We are still not aware of the reports that he is on a coaching course in Europe,” he said.

Zinnbauer also gave a vague response when asked about his second-in-command during the post-match media conference after his team’s Nedbank Cup defeat to Bidvest Wits at Orlando Stadium on Sunday.

“For three weeks I give the same things [answers],” an annoyed Zinnbauer said. “Always the same question and I give you the same information. When he is back, he is back and when he is not back he is not back.”

Mbele declined to comment when asked for his opinion on the view of Pirates legend Jomo Sono that Mokwena, 34, was thrown in the deep end too early when he was made caretaker coach at Bucs. “It will be irresponsible of me to comment on what Jomo Sono said,” Mbele said.