Mokwena after defeat to Chiefs: 'I felt like I was Pablo Picasso admiring the Mona Lisa'
Despite his side's deflating 4-2 penalty shoot-out defeat to Kaizer Chiefs in the quarterfinals of the Telkom Knockout on Saturday‚ Orlando Pirates stand-in coach Rulani Mokwena waxed lyrical about his players and likened their performance to watching the revered sculptor Pablo Picasso at work.
Pirates went a man down after the dismissal of defender Mthokozisi Dude early in the second half but managed to force the match to extra time and eventually penalty shoot-outs.
When Dube was given his marching orders‚ Pirates were leading 1-0 from Fortune Makaringe’s goal but their numerical disadvantage counted against them as Chiefs clawed their way back into the game.
“It was a gallant performance‚ in certain moments I felt like I was Pablo Picasso and admiring the Mona Lisa painting‚” he said when asked to analyse the performance of his players.
“Because when you love everything that is associated with football‚ you just cannot help but admire the Pirates players.
"They were unbelievable‚ they fought hard‚ especially when they were one man short.
"They covered the pitch‚ they galvanized each other‚ they motivated each other and they were colossal.
“I have a lot of years of coaching ahead of me but I can tell you this much‚ those players have a new family member in me because they are prepared to look after my back and this is what motivates me.”
Mokwena said before Dube was sent for an early shower‚ Pirates were dominant and managed the threats from Chiefs very well.
“The first half was very good from our side‚ complete dominance and unbelievable tactical superiority‚" he said.
"We managed a lot of threats that we knew would come from Kaizer Chiefs.
“They are a very awkward team to deal with‚ they mix with the threats from their two strikers in Samir Nurkovic and Leonardo Castro and we knew that we will have to deal with long balls that come from their centre backs in Eric Mathoho and Daniel Cardoso looking for their strikers on the shoulders of our defenders."
Going forward to the second installment of the Soweto derby at FNB Stadium on Saturday‚ Mokwena said he is happy that there were no injuries even though Dube will not be eligible.
“Now‚ we are getting a clean bill of health‚ the hospitals beds are empty and we are in a situation where we can pick our best team every time based on meritocracy and whoever plays well will wear the black and white jersey and that’s what we focus on‚" he said.
"The starting line-up finds itself at Pirates‚ the ones who play well will always be on the pitch. We try to have the strongest 18 for every match.”