‘Coach of the season should be me’: Rulani after Sundowns break record

Mahlatse Mphahlele Sports reporter
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena after their DStv Premiership win over Stellenbosch at Athlone Stadium.
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena after their DStv Premiership win over Stellenbosch at Athlone Stadium.
Image: Nic Bothma/BackpagePix

Immediately after setting a new record of 72 for the most points in the 16-team DStv Premiership era, Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena declared himself the coach of the season. 

The Brazilians beat second-placed Stellenbosch FC 1-0 at Athlone Stadium in Cape Town on Saturday to break their own record of 71 points set in the 2015-16 season under former coach Pitso Mosimane. 

Already crowned record-extending seventh-time successive champions, Sundowns also took their unbeaten run to 51 games and are on course to go the league season without a loss if they avoid defeat in their remaining matches against TS Galaxy and Cape Town City.

They are also set to smash the points record even further if they win one or both those games — two wins will take Downs to 78 points.

Sundowns even stand an excellent chance of beating the 18-team era record.

The Premiership was reduced from 18 to 16 teams from the 2003-04 season. In the 18-team format Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs jointly held the record of 75 points.

Sundowns reached that mark in the 1998-99 season along with Chiefs, the Brazilians taking the title on goal difference. Downs reached 75 points again winning the 1999-2000 championship. 

So it was no surprise then that Mokwena expressed his honest opinion that he should win the top caching prize for 2023-24.

“The coach of the season should be me — that’s what I think,” Mokwena said when asked who the accolade should go to, while also giving credit to competitors Steve Barker of Stellenbosch and Jose Riveiro of Orlando Pirates. 

“I think the coach of the season should be the coach who wins the league but I can’t not give lots of compliments to the work that Stevie has done at Stellenbosch. 

“He deserves incredible plaudits for the work he has done there and many other colleagues [do too]. There has been very good work that has been done by someone like Jose Riveiro. 

“But without sounding arrogant, the coach of the season in my opinion would be me and I have no doubts about it.” 

Mokwena gave credit to his “special” group of players for breaking the 16-team era points record. 

“I will steal one of Jürgen Klopp’s quotes when he said it doesn't really matter what people think of you when you arrive but what matters is what people think of you when you leave.

“Maybe that’s how I feel about the points record and maybe that’s the reflection that will take place the day I leave Mamelodi Sundowns, which is still a long way away. So, I don’t think it is something I have really thought about at the moment. 

“It hasn’t sunk into my brain but it is a huge compliment to this special group of players. It is something that is not easy to do and it will be difficult to outdo in the future.” 

Downs' record has come while playing an extraordinary amount of games, plus the travel involved in competing in two continental competitions among the six trophies they are competing for in 2023-24.

The Brazilians will play their 56th match of the season against TS Galaxy at Mbombela Stadium on Tuesday (7.30pm). Sundowns and Galaxy are the only teams with two games left ahead of Saturday's final round of the league. 

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