The Coach of the Season Should Be Me — Rulani Mokwena

Mamelodi Sundowns’ Rulani Mokwena declared himself Coach of the Season after leading his team to a historic 72 points in the 16-team DStv Premiership era.

This achievement surpasses the previous record of 71 points set by Sundowns in the 2015-16 season under Pitso Mosimane.

On Saturday, Sundowns solidified their dominance by defeating second-placed Stellenbosch FC 1-0 at Athlone Stadium in Cape Town. This victory not only broke their own points record but also extended their unbeaten run to 51 games. 

With two matches remaining against TS Galaxy and Cape Town City FC, Sundowns have the potential to further increase their points tally to an unprecedented 78 if they secure victories in both encounters.

Reflecting on his team’s success, Mokwena confidently stated, “The coach of the season should be me — that’s what I think,” when asked about his candidacy for the accolade. He did, however, acknowledge the commendable efforts of his peers, saying, “I can’t not give lots of compliments to the work that Stevie [Barker] has done at Stellenbosch and Jose Riveiro of Orlando Pirates.”

Mokwena emphasized the importance of winning the league as a criterion for the Coach of the Season award but praised his competitors: “He [Barker] deserves incredible plaudits for the work he has done there, and many other colleagues have also done very good work.”

Reflecting on his squad’s achievements, Mokwena credited his players for their dedication and resilience. “I will steal one of Jurgen 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,” he remarked. 

“It hasn’t sunk in yet, but it is a huge compliment to this special group of players.”

The 2023-24 season has been particularly demanding for Sundowns, who have juggled an extraordinary number of matches across various competitions. Their upcoming fixture against TS Galaxy at Mbombela Stadium on Tuesday will mark their 56th match of the season. Despite the rigorous schedule, Sundowns have maintained their high performance, competing for six trophies.

The DStv Premiership was reduced from 18 to 16 teams in the 2003-04 season. Under the old format, both Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs held the joint record of 75 points, a milestone achieved by Sundowns in the 1998-99 season and again in the 1999-2000 championship.

Mokwena’s declaration for the Coach of the Season award, backed by his team’s remarkable performance, sets a high bar for future contenders. 

As Sundowns prepare for their remaining matches, fans eagerly anticipate whether they will set an even higher points record and complete the season undefeated.