Rhulani opens up on Bucs discrimination


Former Orlando Pirates interim coach Rhulani Mokwena has revealed how he felt discriminated against during his short spell in charge of the club's first team.

Mokwena was elevated from assistant coach to taking the temporary reigns at Pirates following the abrupt departure of Milutin Sredojevic in August last year.

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During his spell, the young South African tactician was subjected to plenty criticism and ultimately saw his term end after four months, when The Buccaneers roped in German mentor Jozef Zinnbauer as permanent head coach in December.

Current on loan at Chippa United, Mokwena has opened up on what he felt was a form of discrimination against him from someone within the club's structures. 

"I'd like to be a coach that tries my best to show my capacity; I believe that gone are the days when – hopefully, very soon – people will look beyond age and skin colour, and will focus on competence and the capacity of people," said Mokwena during a SAFJA presser.

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"[Julien] Nagelsmann is just a case in point – he didn't play professional football; he's 32 years old and he's German, and he's been given the responsibility of leading not just Hoffenheim before but now RB Leipzig – one of the biggest teams in the Bundesliga.

"Now, here in South Africa it's very, very difficult for young coaches to be able to [enjoy the same opportunities]. In fact, we set them up for failure, and the pity is that black people set black coaches up for failure.

"It's a pity, but it's a sensitive topic and time will tell. I'll speak about it one day, because after my first match, I had a senior player at Pirates come to me...

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"Micho had left on the Friday; we played Highlands Park on the Saturday – less than 24 hours after Micho left; on Sunday we had regeneration and recovery; Monday we had training at Rand Stadium, and a senior player came to me.

"He said someone – within the organisation, not senior but someone in the club – phoned him and said to him, 'Are you happy with the coach [Mokwena]?' Or, 'Are you happy that the coach has been given the job as head coach?'

"I tell you, I had not even done a training session as a head coach, not even one, and already people were planting doubts into the players about my capacity to lead the team.

"So, those are the things. I don't think that would have happened to any other coach. It's a pity, but it is what it is, and these things make us stronger; you can't dwell too much on these things.

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"Now you know, when Palacios says, 'Eh, you must walk with your wall to the back here in football.' Now you understand what he means, because you learn from experience."

Check out some of Mokwena's most memorable moments at Pirates below