Mngqithi and Mokwena chuckle at jibes over their Sundowns co-coaching roles

15 October 2020 - 15:09 By Sazi Hadebe
A file photo of Mamelodi Sundowns billionaire president Patrice Motsepe with Manqoba Mngqithi and Rulani Mokwena after winning the 2016 Caf Champions League.
A file photo of Mamelodi Sundowns billionaire president Patrice Motsepe with Manqoba Mngqithi and Rulani Mokwena after winning the 2016 Caf Champions League.
Image: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Mamelodi Sundowns co-coaches Rulani Mokwena and Manqoba Mngqithi have insisted that they’ll get on with their job without much hindrance despite fears there could be a huge clashes of personalities and confusion in the dressing room.

Such fears have been heightened after Steve Komphela‚ the former Kaizer Chiefs and Golden Arrows head coach‚ was this week added as a ‘senior coach’ in what now seems an experienced but complicated Brazilians’ technical staff set-up.

“Rest assured we’ve got a team [of coaches] that is capable‚” Mngqithi gushed when a question of a harmonious working relationship was raised in a first press conference of the duo on Thursday.

The presser comes three days ahead of the three coaches’ first match against Bloemfontein Celtic in the MTN8 quarterfinal at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Sunday.

Mokwena also chipped in on the question of synergy in their new working environment‚ saying the “Yellow Nation” (Sundowns’ supporters) need not worry about the stability of the club after the departure of its most successful coach‚ Pitso Mosimane‚ last month.

Mosimane joined Egyptian giants Al Ahly who are meeting Wydad Casablanca in the semifinals of the Caf Champions League on Saturday.

“It’s a right club to have four dictionaries‚” Mokwena started when explaining what it’s like to have the three coaches at the club.

“The players are in the right space‚ don’t worry. We joke about it‚ it’s part of the game and it’s a game of opinions.

“That’s it. You take it on the chin [criticism of the coaching structure] and move on.

"Unfortunately when you’re in our space‚ as leaders we’re exposed to millions and millions of opinions.

“The reality is that if you don’t have a thick skin and if you listen to too many voices‚ you’ll be distracted.

“Unfortunately when you’re in this industry it comes with the tag‚ and the tag is you need a thick skin to survive because everybody thinks they can tell Michael Schumacher how to race the car.

“But the reality is only Michael Schumacher can race the car and he has to make a very good effort to make sure that he wins because there’s pressure to win. So that’s the reality that we find ourselves in.

“We have to have the right chemistry and understanding. There are millions of people that have high expectations for us to be able to represent them.

“And like coach Pitso said‚ ‘The face is not as important as the rest of the body’.

“We have got a sense of humour also about us and I think it’s okay that we’re known as Shadrach‚ Meshach‚ and Abednego [a biblical story of three men thrown into a fiery furnace]. But we’ll keep going.”

Laughing at what he was hearing his counterpart saying‚ Mngqithi hummed on the same point‚ saying everything comes with the territory.

“Nothing is newsworthy every day‚” the former Golden Arrows coach said chuckling.

“We know the space that we’re in and we’ve heard the issue of dictionaries and the three leaders in the bible.

“We laugh at these things because we’re asking ourselves which one is Abednego‚ but it’s okay.

“The truth of the matter is the only unfortunate part in our society is we’re too entrenched into thinking about positions. And I always say to people‚ a position is the lowest part of leadership.

“The most important elements in leadership are beyond the position. If you’re a father in your house‚ you can’t be busy telling your kids‚ ‘I’m your father’‚ because it’s not about being known that you’re a father.

“It’s about the responsibilities of being a father and taking care of your family.

"Why do you keep making them aware that you’re the father. Maybe it’s because you doubt and there’s something that they’re not sure of.

“The position is the lowest point of leadership in any leadership context. If the players and the supporters believe that we can lead them‚ it’s a very important step.

“It’s very important for our society to move a little bit away from the worry of positions but look more deeper into the abilities of people to carry their responsibilities.

“Those things [the positions] are not important because when the three of us are sitting down it’s very easy for us to know who’s contributing what and who is contributing what in order to make sure that this thing moves.”

With that explained‚ Mngqithi touched on their match against Celtic‚ the team they finished the last season against by beating them 1-0 in the Nedbank Cup final last month.

“We believe with everything we’ve done and that there’s nothing stopping us from winning this trophy‚” he said.

“We’re playing against a very awkward team‚ but we’re confident that we’ve got the capacity to win this cup.”