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Orlando Pirates' Rhulani Mokwena reveals special bond with Kaizer Chiefs' Steve Komphela

Posted: 27 February 2018 Time: 12:00

Orlando Pirates assistant coach Rhulani Mokwena says he goes way back with Kaizer Chiefs coach Steve Komphela, but is prepared to sever ties with his mentor ahead of the Soweto Derby.

It is that time of the season again where kinships are put on hold for all of 90 minutes, while Pirates take on arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs in an Absa Premiership encounter this Saturday.

One such instance will be between Pirates defender Innocent Maela and Chiefs fullback Tsepo Masilela, who are brothers divided by this historic rivalry.

In the technical area, meanwhile, Mokwena will be giving the blind-eye to Komphela, with the two going some way back in their respective coaching careers.

“I’ve got a very good relationship with the head coach of Kaizer Chiefs,” said Mokwena in the build-up to this weekend’s match.

“I think when you go through your apprenticeship as a coach, partnerships become extremely important. The people you meet on your path contribute towards setting you up either for success or failure.

“I think possibly one of the most important role players in my career as a coach was coach Steve.”

READ: Rhulani downplays Bucs' title credentials

Komphela spotted Mokwena with Platinum Stars’ Under-19s back in 2009 and, after being left impressed with his training sessions, invited him to assist with the senior team.

The relationship developed and, despite going their separate ways in 2010, the two coaches have remained in close contact, with Mokwena since revealing how Komphela tried to lure him away from Mamelodi Sundowns in recent years.

“While I was still at Sundowns, I would get job offers from Steve to come and assist him. He almost went to Chippa United, and he called me from Maritzburg to come and assist,” revealed Mokwena.

“Unfortunately, at that time, the situation wasn’t right because I was already deeply entrenched into Sundowns, with a lot of responsibility at the club.”

However, coming to this weekend’s clash at the FNB Stadium, Mokwena insists he will be professional and fully focused on his side’s aim of getting three points, while adding that he has even gone as far as blocking Komphela from all forms of telecommunications.

“I’ve got a lot of respect and appreciation, and I’m humbled by the role he’s played in my career. But when it comes to the 90 minutes, I think we share the same sentiments that we put these ties aside and focus on what happens on the pitch,” he added.

“We will definitely go out to play to win the match, and I think he would say the same in this scenario.

“The focus for us is getting three points and, as I told the players in camp, I’ve blocked him from my phone. I’m not receiving any calls, Whatsapp messages or whatever from Steve. And he knows we are rivals for the next seven days.”

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Kick-off at the Calabash in Nasrec is scheduled for 15h30.

Article by: Chad Klate

Tags:  Soweto Derby

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