'You don’t become a bad team overnight‚' says Pirates interim coach Rulani Mokwena

Orlando Pirates interim coach Rulani Mokwena gives instruction to forward Gabadinho Mhango during a match.
Orlando Pirates interim coach Rulani Mokwena gives instruction to forward Gabadinho Mhango during a match.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

All big teams go through a downward cycle at some stage in a season‚ and Orlando Pirates are fortunate that theirs has come early in 2019-20 when there is time to grab hold of and rectify it‚ Bucs’ caretaker-coach Rulani Mokwena has said.

Pirates went to a sixth match without a win‚ and fourth under their impossibly young and immensely talented 32-year-old caretaker Mokwena‚ with a 0-0 Absa Premiership draw against Lamontville Golden Arrows at Orlando Stadium on Wednesday night.

Bucs were defensively strong but lacked intensity and penetration in the attacking third.

“We shouldn’t forget this is the same group of players who went 22 games unbeaten last season‚ and who pushed for the title‚" Mokwena said.

"You don’t become a bad team overnight. But you can go through a cycle. And every team does - Real Madrid last season did‚ and Manchester United still are.

"The good thing about our cycle is it comes nice and early in a season‚ and we’ve got enough time to be able to grab hold of it and not allow it to continue."

Milutin Sredojevic's resignation seems to have rattled the Orlando Pirates squad.
Milutin Sredojevic's resignation seems to have rattled the Orlando Pirates squad.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Mokwena seemed to make a schoolboy error of too many changes in his starting XI (five) from Bucs' 1-1 Caf Champions League home draw on Saturday that saw them exit 2-1 in aggregate in the preliminary round.

The young coach needs time to find his feet.

He also has a tough task restoring confidence in a squad reeling from the bombshell‚ abrupt departure under bizarre circumstances of head coach Milutin Sredojevic.

Mokwena said Pirates' lack of confidence and cohesion are aspects to work on in a three-week break where they are not involved in this weekend's MTN8 semifinals‚ which are followed by a Fifa international date.

"As you can see‚ a lot of teams‚ because we’ve done so well [in the past]‚ play against us with a reinforced block‚" Mokwena said.

"Now if you do not have all the four superiorities in modern football [it becomes hard to break that down].

"At this moment we try with structural tweaks to make sure that we have positional superiority in trying to get players into the right areas.

"We try to have some form of organisational superiority‚ but the reality is that you also need qualitative superiority.

Rulani Mokwena would have learnt quite a lot during his time with Milutin Sredojevic.
Rulani Mokwena would have learnt quite a lot during his time with Milutin Sredojevic.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

"You watch Manchester City - teams sit back but Raheem Sterling comes in‚ or Sergio Agüero comes in‚ and they do something.

"Of the two superiorities we are unfortunately lacking at this moment one is qualitative - we have the quality with the players‚ but unfortunately we are lacking the confidence within those quality players.

"The second is to work on cohesive superiority. If movements are not automated and schemes and organisational forms are not right‚ then you don’t give yourself a chance to win football matches.

"We’ll find solutions. We’re working around the clock. We’ve got a very good technical team and a very good group of analysts who work very hard.

"We will try our best to find the right solutions - and it’s a collective‚ it’s all of us - and come back stronger after the Fifa break."

Pirates next meet Bidvest Wits in the PSL at Bidvest Stadium on Saturday‚ September 21.

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