Rulani Mokwena on how Cavin Johnson inspired him to become a coach

Mahlatse Mphahlele Sports reporter
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena will be up against his mentor Cavin Johnson during their DStv Premiership clash at FNB Stadium.
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena will be up against his mentor Cavin Johnson during their DStv Premiership clash at FNB Stadium.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

It will be a classic case of student versus master when Kaizer Chiefs host traditional rivals Mamelodi Sundowns in their DStv Premiership clash at FNB Stadium on Thursday night. 

Chiefs coach Cavin Johnson influenced his younger Sundowns counterpart Rulani Mokwena to venture into coaching and because of that there is mutual admiration for each other. 

But all that is going to be put on hold for the duration of this encounter where Mamelodi Sundowns will be confirmed champions for the seventh successive campaign if they win all three points. 

Sundowns need only three points from the match with Kaizer Chiefs to reach an unassailable 62 points at the top of the standings and be crowned champions at the home ground of their rivals. 

In the build-up to the match, Mokwena spoke of his admiration and respect for Johnson whom he said has made a massive contribution to football in the country. 

Asked if it is going be difficult for him to “put a dagger in Johnson’s heart”, Mokwena responded he would not want a knife in his own heart. 

“But he could put a dagger in my heart, its unfortunately what football is about. He is a fierce competitor and I know he would love to win the game but I think he knows it is the same with me. 

“He’s got a good heart, he is a good guy who I have incredible respect for and he has done incredible things for South African football. As a coach, I have always admired him because he has produced so many football players like Stephen Pienaar at the School of Excellence. 

“That’s why even when I was a youth coach, I always worked hard to make sure that players that I coach will go on and become great football players. I am very proud that he inspired me to have that track record. 

“He is the one that planted the seed in my heart, he is someone that I have huge admiration and gratitude for the role he played. He is similar to someone like Steve Komphela who I appreciate for what he did for me earlier in my career. 

“I also appreciate coach Allan Freeze for the work that he did and the influence that he had in my career. These are people that I will never forget in my journey, we will meet each other and in the end we will try to win football matches.” 

Johnson said they are focused on getting three points because their spot in the top eight is threatened by Polokwane City, Chippa United, Golden Arrows, AmaZulu and, to a lesser extent, Royal AM. 

“In the match against SuperSport United, we went there for a physical and the tactical match because of the awareness of coach Gavin Hunt and we came out smiling having scored two goals which was good.”

He said the players had not had much rest but were positive and prepared for the match against Sundowns. 

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