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Why Cape Town City was a natural choice for former Bafana skipper

How Senong got Mokoena to open door into coaching

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Thabo Senong during the U/20 World Cup squad announcement on May 05, 2017 in Johannesburg.
Thabo Senong during the U/20 World Cup squad announcement on May 05, 2017 in Johannesburg.
Image: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

Fresh from being appointed as Cape Town City assistant coach on Monday, his first coaching gig, former Bafana Bafana captain Aaron “Mbazo” Mokoena has laid bare how Thabo Senong persuaded him to consider coaching, after his days as a player.

Mokoena’s arrival at City follows the departure of Vasili Manousakis, who resigned last week to assume a similar role at AmaZulu where he'll be reunited with Benni McCarthy.

Speaking exclusively to Sowetan yesterday, Mbazo revealed he’d never planned to venture into coaching until then SA under-20 trainer Senong convinced him that he must coach after retiring.

“When I was still playing I used to say I won’t be a coach. I imagined myself as a scout after retiring or someone who’s looking after my businesses. All that changed one day I had a chat with coach Thabo,’’ said Mokoena, who holds a Uefa C licence.

“Thabo convinced me. He said, ‘look, I didn’t play football at the highest level like you but I am a coach ... coaching should be for you guys’. That stuck with me for a very long time. Those words made me realise that football needs me.’’

Mbazo, who is Bafana’s most capped player with 107 appearances, reflected on how the move came about, revealing that having worked with coach Jan Olde Riekerink during the teething stage of his career at Ajax Amsterdam between 1999 and 2000 played a role in him linking up with the Cape club.

“We had an induction long ago, before the season started, with the chairman [John Comitis] and the coach [Riekerink]. I worked with the coach 23 years ago at Ajax and that contributed a lot to me coming here, but also I have a good relationship with Mr Comitis,’’ Mokoena explained.

The retired defender, who turned out for the likes of Jomo Cosmos, Bayer Leverkusen, Blackburn Rovers, Portsmouth and Bidvest Wits in his prime, intends to absorb knowledge that will help him be a better head coach in future.

“My plan is to add value to the team and grow in coaching. Of course I’d want to be a head coach in future, but at the moment I want to learn and grow,’’ noted Mokoena.

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