This Is Bigger Than Rulani And Fadlu
Orlando Pirates coach, Rulani Mokwena, finds himself in one of the toughest positions in domestic football after the pre-mature and abrupt departure of Milutin Sredojevic two weeks ago.
The self-named “Serbian Wolf” dropped a bombshell when he announced his resignation from the hotseat with immediate effect, less than 24 hours before the MTN8 quarterfinal clash against Highlands Park. That Pirates lost the game and ultimately got knocked out of the competition is now history. Just as the fact that the team hasn’t been the same since that surprising announcement was made on Friday night, August 16th.
While the details of Micho’s departure remain sketchy, you have to spare a thought for the team’s supporters who were so looking forward to “visible trophies” this season after two promising campaigns under Micho. His departure and how it unfolded is a story for another day, but there’s no way the club would just release a coach from his contract without a fight, especially one that looked to be onto something in his third season. That the same coach who had ‘personal challenges’ to deal with, citing his mother’s illness as the main reason, only to be announced as the new Zamalek coach less than 48 hours later, leaves more questions than answers. Micho’s departure opened a door for the team’s assistant coach to be elevated to the head coaching role, which could be a blessing in disguise for the 34-year-old, whose progression has since been expedited. It has always been rumoured that the grandson of the late Eric ‘Scara’ Sono was earmarked to take over the reins in the future and therefore the time is now for the former Mamelodi Sundowns assistant coach to show what he is made of.
While the results have not been what many would have expected from Mokwena’s charges so far, it is vitally important to remember that whenever there’s change, things change. Yes, Mokwena was Micho’s assistant for two seasons and continuity will be expected from his rein, but being number two and number one are two different things. Mokwena needs support not criticism as he’s not only doing it for himself. There’s already a section of people who seem ready to throw stones at the young coach, which is rather disappointing. People seem to suffer from the Pull Him Down (PHD) syndrome, forgetting what Rhulani’s success will mean for South African football.
Rhulani getting the hotseat, with coach Fadlu Davids next to him, is great news, but the two need to be allowed to create their own history, without any comparisons. In fact, this move is bigger than Rhulani and Fadlu as it has a potential to pave the way for other local, young coaches to finally get their much-needed breakthrough. It could be a move that changes the mindset of club owners and supporters to start giving deserving coaches an opportunity regardless of their age or origins. This could be a catalyst to new, younger and fresher ideas and youthful leaders assuming big roles not just on the field but off the field as well. When both Rhulani and Fadlu go out there, they’ve got to remember that they represent the millions of young coaches out there looking up to them. They are on the verge of making history by becoming the youngest coaches to lead such a big team to success. For too long, we’ve overlooked our own for average foreign coaches while local deserving coaches were kept on the sidelines. Some of these coaches were sent to do courses by the same clubs and associations that overlook them constantly and you wonder what the plan behind the courses was, to start with? Ageism has no place in football anymore. The young Pirates coaches could very well be on their way to change things.
Our young coaches getting opportunities augurs well for our football. Congratulations to coach Molefi Ntseki who recently earned the right to lead Bafana Bafana, albeit on an interim basis. The man has been around the block and worked with some of the best coaches and knows South African football inside out and therefore he deserved a shot. He too, just like Mokwena, needs help in order to pull this gig off and we certainly need to see more of these moves in our coaching sphere.
One a sad note, it is with heavy hearts that we received the news of the passing away of the legendary David Kekana who sadly lost his five-year battle with diabetes and left a gaping hole to the sport journalism industry, early this week. Those who worked with Kekana can’t speak high enough of his dedication to his craft. He is one of those who paved the way for us even here at Soccer Laduma, as our readers old enough to remember the early 2000s will remember his byline in this newspaper. May his soul rest in peace.