Orlando Pirates assistant coach Rhulani Mokwena cools Absa Premiership title talk
Posted: 26 February 2018 Time: 19:30
Orlando Pirates assistant coach Rhulani Mokwena insists the team are not yet at a stage where they can earnestly compete with Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs for Absa Premiership honours.
Pirates’ rich history and esteem arguably places its own responsibility on the club’s coaches and players to challenge for the league title every season, and more so when they find themselves in second position, just four points off the top of the standings.
However, Mokwena, who arrived at the Houghton-based club at the start of the season, has argued that the team lacks the experience to be able to have a right go at the championship, alongside fellow big-guns Downs and Chiefs, at this particular point in time.
“When you talk of the big clubs, you talk of their prestige, history, status, etc. and, of course, we can’t neglect the significance of having three big teams on top of the log in that sense,” explained Mokwena.
“I think it is good for South African football; it is something that we are due to have in this country, where you have three big clubs in a very good moment in the same season.
“But, when you talk of the club, you also have to critically look at the team because sometimes the team does not reflect the true status of the club.
“We’re at a moment now where we are building a team that can really reflect the status of our club. We aren’t at a stage where we can say: ‘We’re competing for the league title as a team,’ because we don’t yet have a team that, at this moment in time, is strong enough to compete with a team that has been built over five years [Sundowns] and a team that has been built over three years [Chiefs].”
The young tactician, who has taken South African football by storm following his promotion from the Sundowns youth ranks to senior team assistant in 2014, has likened Pirates’ team to a young horse still in need of grooming before they can compete with other race horses.
“It’s like what Jose Mourinho said when he was at Chelsea. You’ve got three horses that are really in a competitive phase of the season, but you’ve also got one of the smaller horses – younger, that needs to be fed with a little bit more milk, that still needs to take a few more steps, and still understand that it needs to be just as aggressive, as competitive and as consistent as the other bigger brothers – that’s where Orlando Pirates is,” he added.
Last season, Bucs finished the campaign in a meager 11th position with just 33 points collected after 30 games. They have since amassed 36 points from 22 games under the guidance of Micho Sredojevic and company.