Rhulani opens door for Pirates return


Former Orlando Pirates interim coach Rhulani Mokwena has opened up about his time at the club and says he would gladly return if the opportunity were to present itself.

Mokwena spent nearly two-and-a-half years at Pirates – two of these as assistant coach to Milutin Sredojevic before taking over as interim coach four five months.

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The 33-year-old tactician left stable ground at Mamelodi Sundowns, where he enjoyed a considerable amount of success, to honour the call of his boyhood club for which his father Julius 'KK' Sono and uncle Jomo Sono turned out.

He has since joined Chippa United 'on loan' until the end of the season, after being replaced by Josef Zinnbauer in December, but has since opened up about a possible return.

"When I came to Pirates, I left Sundowns and it was not an easy decision to make. But it was a decision I made because of my family background and the attachment we have as a family towards the club," Mokwena told the SA Football Journalists' Association (SAFJA).

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"Even while at Pirates, as you know, I was even asked to coach Bafana Bafana as an assistant to Stuart Baxter, and I sacrificed representing my nation for Orlando Pirates.

"There were offers to be a head coach elsewhere and I sacrificed that to stay on at Orlando Pirates, because there was a bigger vision, which was more the Chairman's vision that he sold to me.

"But the reality of the situation is, you also learn over time that as much as you respect the institution, you love the institution, you don't attach yourself – particularly not in our environment – to clubs, because the job we have is so fragile and so short-lived. 

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"I mean, the Chairman is and will always be a father figure to me; I will always be appreciative of Orlando Pirates giving me the opportunity to start my head coaching career at the club.

"The lessons I learnt under very difficult circumstances at Pirates have shaped me and made me strong. I am a better person, honestly, than before I arrived at Pirates – I'm less emotional and have a thicker skin because I made a lot of mistakes and learnt from them.

"But if I was not given that opportunity, I don't think I would have learnt those lessons anywhere else. So I'm very sober in my thinking, but we've seen these things happening before.

"We've seen Mourinho leave Chelsea and come back, so I cannot close the door to that. But I don't have control over it. What I do have control over is my own capacity and growth as a coach, whether that means growing with or away from Pirates, the most important thing for me is that I continue to grow."

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