Mamelodi Sundowns head coach Rulani Mokwena’s insatiable appetite for learning more about the game never stops.
Top of the log
His team has gone into the break, enforced by the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations 2023 in Ivory Coast.
They are in a good position to defend the Premiership title a record seventh time.
Sundowns have also advanced to the CAF Champions League group stages. This signals their intention to reclaim the continental cup they won back in 2016.
But instead of soaking in the sun and taking a well-deserved break after a grueling travelling doing Champions League duties, Mokwena has had no time to relax.
Learning never stops
The energetic coach quietly jetted out to Brazil to spend a few days with Botafogo FC, which campaigns in the Serie A.
Mokwena took to X to share the news. “The learning never stops. Thank you Botafogo for hospitality and opening your doors. I think I have seen the next Neymar,” wrote the eloquent 37-year old Mokwena.
The trip to the Rio de Janeio-based Botafogo FC could be significant for Sundowns. This is because the Brazilian club is known for its strong connection to the football world.
Interestingly, Sundowns nickname, The Brazillians, is drawn from the Brazilian national team uniform.
The South Africans have modelled their style of flair, passion and precision on the Samba Boys, leaving many supporters in awe and opposition in envy. It’s the second time Mokwena has undertaken a trip to improve his knowledge of the game. He is known to be a monster when it comes to consuming information.
As Orlando Pirates assistant coach under Micho Sredojevic in 2018, he spent a significant amount of time in the UK at Liverpool FC Melwood academy.
He spent time with scouting and first team department there. Upon his return to South Africa Mokwena he was in awe of Liverpool head coach Jurgen Klopp. He couldn’t help but rave at how he goes about his business at Anfield.
He has never passed up a chance to remind anyone who cares to listen what advise Klopp once shared with him.
After Sundowns lost 2-1 to Pedro de Luanda in Angola in the Champions first leg quarter-final in 2022, Mokwena drew inspiration from the Liverpool German coach.
“I’m reminded of something Jurgen Klopp actually told me when I visited Melwood,” he was quoted widely in the media.
“I never thought I’d use it because I’m a coach that wants to win every single match. In football either win, lose or draw. You have all those possibilities every time a match starts. Jurgen Klopp said to me: ‘coach, if you want to succeed in football, lose the right match’. And I think we lost the right match because it doesn’t knock us out. We still have a chance to make it.”