Da Gama roots for Rulani Mokwena in TKO derby clash

Orlando Pirates coach Rulani Mokwena.
Orlando Pirates coach Rulani Mokwena.

As Orlando Pirates prepare to face Chiefs in the quarterfinal of the Telkom Knockout in Durban on Saturday, their young coach Rulani Mokwena has received backing from an unexpected source.

Following their controversial 1-0 loss to the Buccaneers on Tuesday night, the last place one would expect words of encouragement to come from is Highlands Park. "I strongly believe that Rulani - if given time and all the support - will take Pirates to greater heights," said coach Owen da Gama. "He needs time to get things right."

Mokwena, who refused point-blank to answer questions on the upcoming derby against Chiefs, described himself as a servant of the black and white outfit.

"I am just a servant of this great institution and players," he said, adding that he has a lot of support from management, technical team and the players.

"(Media officer) Thandi Merafe is one of them; she gives a motherly support and sometimes players need that. She is an asset to Pirates, I don't know where Pirates got her, she's got a different sense for [different] situations.

"We will take each game as it comes. Congratulations to our players [for winning against Highlands]. We asked them to grind it out and they did. They worked hard, kept to the game plan and instructions, and we got the three points."

Mokwena should be able to call on Thembinkosi Lorch for Saturday's grudge match. Lorch was rested against Highlands as he sits on three yellow cards.

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