BREAKING: Mamelodi Sundowns and Coach Rhulani Mokwena Eye Potential Split

According to SABC Sport, Mamelodi Sundowns and coach Rhulani Mokwena are in discussions regarding a possible separation, just one year after signing a four-year contract.

While a final decision is pending after tense talks, the likelihood of Mokwena stepping down appears probable rather than possible. 

The reported reason for this surprising development is a fractured working relationship between Mokwena and sporting director Flemming Berg.

Berg, who previously held roles as a talent development manager for the Danish FA and international scout for Chelsea, joined Sundowns in April 2022 while Mokwena served as co-coach alongside Manqoba Mngqithi.

Mokwena’s subsequent promotion to sole head coach seemingly placed him under Berg’s authority, a dynamic that sources claim has caused friction for some time. This tension could be further amplified by differing approaches to the upcoming transfer window for the 2024/25 season.

Sundowns have released several players, including defender Brian Onyango, midfielders Bongani Zungu and Gaston Sirino, striker Thabiso Kutumela, and attacker Junior Mendieta (who expressed his potential move to Greece in a radio interview). However, no new signings have been announced despite their upcoming pre-season camp in Austria.

While negotiations were ongoing at the time of publication, Mokwena’s absence from the first group of players returning for pre-season medicals suggests a potential departure.

Though it’s unclear whether his presence was expected before official pre-season training begins later in the week, sources indicate that Mokwena, alongside the rest of the squad, had just returned from vacation.

Despite the slim chances of him remaining in charge, it’s reported that Mokwena proposed a year-long sabbatical to allow Berg to pursue his vision for the club. This suggestion appears to acknowledge the crucial pre-season recruitment phase, currently spearheaded by Berg.

Mokwena’s recent achievements include securing the DStv Premiership title in May (extending Sundowns’ championship streak to seven) and being named Coach of the Season.

Furthermore, Sundowns triumphed in the inaugural African Football League in November. However, their CAF Champions League campaign ended in a semi-final defeat for the second consecutive year.

Overall, Mokwena has delivered four league titles for Sundowns, two during his co-coaching tenure with Mngqithi and two as sole head coach.