CAF should be Mokwena’s priority

Now that his contract negotiations have been dealt with, signed and sealed, Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena can stop imitating Pep Guardiola and focus on winning the CAF Champions League next season.

We spend a lot of time attending media briefings at Sundowns headquarters in Chloorkop, and Mokwena has not made it a secret that he is fond of the Manchester City manager’s coaching ways.

Mokwena is not shy to admit that he models his coaching style to that of the former Barcelona defender and coach. What is a little eerie is that even his fashion sense, mannerism and conduct on the touchline, are beginning to resemble that of Guardiola.

Maybe it is time Mokwena fashions his own identity and philosophy – it is good to admire big dreamers and achievers, but at some point, you’ve got to carve your own niche. So, there couldn’t be a better time for the coach to show that he can continue with Sundowns’ all dominating disposition and bring more trophies to Ka bo Yellow.

Last season was a rather topsy-turvy affair. At some point, Sundowns were on the right groove to win a treble, with the Nedbank Cup and CAF Champions League all within touching distance, but it all collapsed like dominoes.

They were only left with the DStv Premiership, something that is a little disappointing, judging by their lofty standards.

Mokwena, the youngest coach in the PSL at 36, is fortunate enough to have the backing of his club bosses – something that is as scarce as an iStore in Thembisa, in the PSL.

Even after the disappointment of bowing out of the Champions League, Sundowns head honchos still showed confidence in him and rewarded him with a four-year contract extension.

But we know he will not get to four, or even half of it, if he does not bring home the coveted one. He has been at the club long enough to understand that failure to bring the crown jewel will result in him joining the long UIF queues, albeit for a short time, since he seems to have attracted interest from big clubs.

There have been huge debates on whether Mokwena, like Evander Holyfied, is the “Real Deal” and this coming season will give us a great gauge on whether he is better than Mosimane and that he too can take Sundowns to the promised land.

Mosimane has given Mokwena pointers as to what is needed to go and wrestle the trophy away from the north Africans: “Sundowns had the best team, they had the best moments and they played well. They played beautifully with flair. But it takes more than that to win the Champions League. They just needed to beat Wydad and I expected them to win. I do not want to talk about these things because if you talk about them, it’s a double-edged sword and it’s like you’re sarcastic.

“It takes more than talent to win it – it also takes maturity from both the players and the coach. The Champions League is not about how good you are, it is about being at the right place at the right time and doing the right things at the time”

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