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Rhulani Mokwena: One step back, three steps forward?

Rhulani Mokwena, Pitso Mosimane and Manqoba Mnqgithi
On Wednesday evening, there was expected to be a major cold front which will bring in heavy rain, and in certain parts of Mzansi, snow too – but nothing close to the spine-chilling news that was about to follow regarding one of South Africa’s most well sought-after coaches.

The prodigal son, Rhulani Mokwena, has returned to Mamelodi Sundowns, where he enjoyed the most successful time in his career, claiming a collection of trophies, most notably the CAF Champions League in 2016.

The former Chippa United coach, who just completed his loan spell from Orlando Pirates, returned to his post as assistant coach behind Pitso Mosimane and alongside Manqoba Mnqgithi.

Together, Sundowns proved to have, undeniably, the best technical team in the business – and they are all South African. It may seem like a step back after working as a head coach in two well-established Absa Premiership teams, but Mokwena seems to have taken the ‘Fadlu Davids' route and return to his role as assistant coach.

Immediately, many would see this as a lack of ambition or an unwillingness to run your own race, but being just 33 years old, Mokwena has plenty of time to get to the level we all expect him to be – in that period, who better to learn under than Mosimane.

With all due respect, it’s a much better route rather than becoming the next Cavin Johnson or Muhsin Ertugral, joining the merry-go-round and being shuffled between the same old clubs. Walking away from Chippa at the end of his contract was one of the wisest decisions Mokwena could have made, while his time at Bucs will serve as one of the biggest lessons he has learnt too.

With Mosimane extending his stay at Masandawana, it seems like the band is back together for the long-run and that fine tune that we all learnt to love so much will be graced upon our presence.

“Stay where you are loved,” was a famous quote once used by Mosimane, and as much as he had that pitch-side altercation with a Sundowns supporter, the Downs faithful have always had a soft spot for Mokwena.

He tried for two years to better Sundowns in the league with Orlando Pirates, and after successive failed attempts, Mokwena couldn’t beat them, so perhaps it seemed right to re-join them.

For Mokwena and his career, returning to Chloorkop was undoubtedly the best option available.

Written by Jesse Nagel