'I tell him to walk barefoot': Sundowns coach Mokwena on keeping Mailula grounded

06 February 2023 - 18:29
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena at a press conference at PSL headquarters on February 6 2023.
Image: Lee Warren/Gallo Images Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena at a press conference at PSL headquarters on February 6 2023.

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena has shared an unusual trick he has been using to keep high-flying starlet Cassius Mailula grounded.

Mailula has received praise for his exceptional performances this season, seemingly on a meteoric rise to stardom.

The 21-year-old has scored seven goals and provided three assists in 11 DStv Premiership appearances.

The Ga-Molepo-born forward scored the only goal when Masandawana marched to a record-extending 15th win in succession, beating Orlando Pirates 1-0 at Orlando Stadium on Saturday.

He also has two goals from as many matches in the Caf Champions League.

Mokwena has been cautious about Mailula being lavished with too much praise as the coach believes that could be detrimental to his career if it goes to his head.

Speaking at a Nedbank Cup press conference at the Premier Soccer League headquarters on Monday, Mokwena said he has been using a trick he learnt from his psychologist to ensure the young man's newfound fame does not go to his head.

“I tell him to walk barefoot,” Mokwena said. “Like I tell most of my players, I tell them to take their shoes off and walk barefoot.

“That helps — I do it myself. I do a lot of barefoot walking. It helps with grounding and it’s important.

“It’s a part of my routine and it’s advice I give a lot to the players.”

Mokwena's admission drew a laugh from media who initially could doubted the seriousness of it. The coach, though, said he was serious and shared where he learned the trick.

“It’s true, you can do research about it. It helps big time,” he insisted. “My psychologist told me once that, ‘you have to do it’, and it helped me big time.

“It keeps you grounded, it keeps you connected to the ground. It’s a good thing.”

Sundowns begin their Nedbank Cup title defence against Richards Bay FC at Loftus Stadium on Tuesday night (7.30pm).

After that, Masandawana turn their focus to the Caf Champions League where their group stage campaign gets under way with a clash against Al-Hilal of Sudan at Loftus on Saturday.

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