What Sundowns coach Mokwena’s father KK Sono told him before AFL final
Mamelodi Sundowns boss Rulani Mokwena has revealed a message from his father, Orlando Pirates legend Julius “KK” Sono, in the build-up to Sunday's African Football League (AFL) decider at Loftus Stadium in Pretoria.
Mokwena, 36, made history on Sunday when he led Sundowns to a 2-0 win over Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca in the second leg of the AFL final at Loftus Stadium.
Downs claimed a 3-2 victory on aggregate to become the first side to win the Confederation of African Football's money-spinning new tournament and Mokwena, just 36, secured his maiden continental trophy as a head coach.
The Brazilians showed true character to overturn the 2-1 deficit they returned home with from Casablanca a week ago as Peter Shalulile, fresh from injury, and Aubrey Modiba scored to give the Pretoria team the R74m prize money.
As is his custom, Mokwena gave all the praise to his players.
“This special group of players, I run out of superlatives in speaking about this incredible group of players,” he said.
“I really thank God for this opportunity to lead this club, I thank God to lead and be part of this magnificent group and to be their coach because these players have backed me.
“I have pushed them so hard, we work really hard, and we go all the way. They make so many sacrifices. I want to thank them for that — and their families also, because their families don’t get to spend a lot of time with them.
“I want to thank my family for the support they have given to me.
“Just the other day, I was speaking to my father, and he said, ‘you must tell your midfielders not to make a back pass and anybody that makes a back pass must go back home’, and that was my team talk I delivered.
“So, he must know, Mr KK Sono, that I listened, and I passed on the message. I just want to thank him and thank my mother, Linda, also.”
Before the game, Mokwena, who usually doesn’t speak about his father in the media, revealed how “KK” Sono and his brother — Mokwena's uncle, South African football great and another Pirates legend Jomo Sono — “are my coaches”.
“Whenever I hear a phone ring and it says Bra J [Jomo Sono] I know it’s a coaching course and when I see KK Sono, I know it is a coaching course,” Mokwena said last week.
“I am privileged that I have their experience from the work they have done, and I can rely on them to give a lot of advice and information on how to deal with certain things.
“I was saying to my mother the other day that I wish my late grandfather [another Pirates legend, Eric ‘Scara’ Sono] was still alive. I think I could have got more advice from him because of the role he played at Pirates.”
Mokwena added to his burgeoning reputation continentally by steering Sundowns to the AFL title.
Since being promoted to being Downs' sole head coach in October last year, he has steered the team to a dominant sixth DStv Premiership title in a row (by 16 points over nearest challengers Pirates) and the Caf Champions League semifinals (both in 2022-23).
This season the Brazilians lost on penalties to Pirates in the MTN8 domestic cup final.
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