Rhulani Mokwena will be Bafana coach one day‚ says incumbent Baxter

Orlando Pirates assistant coach Rhulani Mokwena prepares to brief Justin Shonga during a league match.
Orlando Pirates assistant coach Rhulani Mokwena prepares to brief Justin Shonga during a league match.
Image: Veli Nhlap/Sowetan

Orlando Pirates’ assistant-coach Rhulani Mokwena has been brought in as an observer and to gain experience with Bafana Bafana in this month’s tournament in Zambia‚ with an eye to him even being senior national coach one day.

That was Bafana coach Stuart Baxter’s explanation of the invitation extended to ex-Mamelodi Sundowns and current Pirates coaching wunderkind Mokwena to join South Africa’s’s technical team in the four-nation friendly tournament in Zambia.

“Rhulani is obviously one of the outstanding young coaches in the country‚” Baxter said‚ announcing a squad that introduced a number of young players‚ combined with experience‚ at Safa House on Tuesday.

“I would like to think he does have ambitions‚ and I would like to think that he can learn from the experience.”

Baxter was asked of this concept would become a regular fixture with the national team.

“Yes‚ we want this to be a thing that we do more often. You can’t do it at every camp with a different coach pitching up‚” he said.

“Maybe some of the coaches it will be a recurring thing. Yes‚ you do want to find out how good the coach is.

“If I’m being brutally honest‚ when I was in England the English media wanted an English national coach. Sven-Goran Eriksson was the coach and they loved him‚ but they would have preferred to have had an Englishman.

“And I’m sure that‚ without being nasty or racist‚ South Africa should be coached by a South African in a perfect world.

“And in lieu of there not being a suitable candidate at that moment‚ you can look elsewhere.

“I’m very proud and honoured to be the SA national team coach. But I think that it’s a part of my job and duty to empower those young South African coaches‚ the same as the young SA players.

“And maybe one day Rulani‚ or (Baxter's assistant) Thabo Senong‚ will be the senior national coach.

“We won’t be asking Rulani to put together the gameplan so we can follow it. But we will be asking for his input.

“And I think‚ in the future‚ if he realises the talent he undoubtedly has‚ that it's not impossible for him to be the senior national coach.”

Bafana begin assembling on Sunday‚ train at Orlando Stadium on Monday (March 19)‚ and leave for Ndola on Tuesday (March 20).

They meet Angola on Thursday March 22. Depending on the result of that match‚ they play the winners or losers of Zimbabwe versus Zambia on Sunday‚ March 25.