×

We've got news for you.

Register on SowetanLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

'I've improved most players at Downs... it's a sign of a great coach'

Mokwena silences critics by winning league title as sole head coach

Neville Khoza Journalist
Mamelodi Sundowns chairman Tlhopie Motsepe and coach Rulani Mokwena celebrate with the DStv Premiership trophy after their 1-1 draw against Maritzburg United at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria.
Mamelodi Sundowns chairman Tlhopie Motsepe and coach Rulani Mokwena celebrate with the DStv Premiership trophy after their 1-1 draw against Maritzburg United at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena says he is unmoved by critics and claims he has improved a lot of players including Orlando Pirates playmaker Thembinkosi Lorch during his stay at the Soweto giants.

Mokwena was speaking after his side were crowned the DStv Premiership champions on Tuesday after they concluded their season with a 1–1 draw against Maritzburg United at Loftus Versfeld Stadium where goals from Bradley Ralani and Ali Meza ensured points were shared.

Asked if winning the title has since silenced his critics, Mokwena was quick to say many seem to have forgotten that he has improved most of his players at Sundowns, which shows a sign of a great coach.

This after he was criticised when Sundowns had a poor run of form that saw them winless in four domestic matches with certain quarters claiming the club's success has a lot to do with the owners' deep pockets rather than him being in charge.

“Tell me of a player at this football club who has not improved. Mention one, who has not improved,” Mokwena asked the media in the post-match press conference.

“Results aside, the biggest sign of coaching is to improve the players. I improved Themba Zwane, improved Sipho Mbule, improved Neo Maema, Khuliso Mudau, Ronwen Williams, Mothobi Mvala, Sifiso Ngobeni, Terrence Mashego, Grant Kekana, Tebogo Mokoena, Surprise Ralani, Gaston Sirino, Cassius Mailula ... I can continue.

“So that for me is enough that I have contributed to the lives and careers of these players, so the praise and criticism will not move me because I see these things.

“And by the way, can I also tell you even where I was, I improved Justin Shonga, Nyasha Munetsi, Thembinkosi Lorch, Vincent Pule, Fortune Makaringe, Kabelo Dlamini, Thabiso Monyane and I can go on.

“Even before, so sometimes I keep quiet and let the people make the noise. It’s enough, that’s life. I also have respect for my colleagues. Have you ever heard me criticise a single coach? no chance, but I’ve been criticised by a lot of them.”

Mokwena wants to celebrate winning his first title as a sole head coach at Sundowns without negativity.

“I’m so proud I don’t even want to hear a word of negativity, I don’t want to even reflect on anything except the fact that we are champions,” he said. “And that means absolutely everything to me. I know the amount of hours I put into the team, I take my job very seriously. Sometimes even when the negativity and critics come I’m able to brush them off.

“I push, I hustle, I demand. Seven matches since we won the championship you tell me if we have lost a match. We might not have played well in some of the matches; one thing you will never criticise this team for ... its intensity, commitment, desire and hunger. No chance.”

Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.