Downs have the Congo fever


With arguably some of the best players on the continent, Mosimane may not have any qualms with his players’ technical ability to apply themselves in their quest for the CAF Champions League trophy.

But temperamental coach Mosimane has done well to surround himself with a calm and experienced assistant in Manqoba Mngqithi and an ambitious Rhulani Mokwena.

Mokwena was a youth coach a few years ago. Now he is mixing it with top coaches and big-name players in Sundowns’ mission to win a treble this season.

Mosimane, who has won almost all there is to win in domestic football, believes his Mokwena has what it takes to soar to greater heights. “I told Rhulani that if you don’t become better than me, it will be your fault,” said Mosimane.

Like Mosimane, Mokwena is ambitious. Like Mngqithi, Mokwena boasts the intellectual capacity. Like Steve Komphela, Mokwena has the gift of the gab. A student of the game, Mokwena believes the sky is the limit.

“My focus is to be the best assistant coach I can be,” said Mokwena.

“I want to learn, grow and improve as a coach. I would like to develop and be one of the best coaches in South Africa and ultimately coach in Europe. The capacity is there, the potential is there but it needs a lot of hard work. It’s possible. A couple of years ago we didn’t have any players from South Africa playing in Europe until it happened with Lucas Radebe and Benni McCarthy,” said Mokwena

“We may not have South Africans coaching in Europe but it doesn’t mean it is impossible. It means it’s of critical importance that we work extremely hard, we prepare ourselves because the universe always prepares a way for people who know where they want to go.”

Mokwena, a sports science graduate, is always on the lookout for the latest trends and developments in the world of football to empower himself and implement it for the benefit of Sundowns. His analysis and reading of the game are impressive.

As Sundowns take on the Democratic Republic of Congo’s AS Vita Club today at the Stade Tata Raphael in search of qualification to the group stages of the CAF Champion League, Mokwena’s knowledge and wisdom will come in handy.

He says the six-time PSL champions have done their homework on their opponents.

“Preparation will always eliminate fear. In terms of tactics, training sessions, the history and experience of playing international matches, other dynamics come into play. When you are prepared, you have this resilience that drives you towards achieving your goals,” said Mokwena. “We will need lots of tactical discipline. We know how AS Vita play. We know they play very narrow with uncharacteristic movement from their wingers.

“We know how aggressive their fullbacks are in terms of initiating offensive dynamism in wide channels. We know how they structure themselves from set pieces.

“For us, it needs planning. We need to be compact, not to allow them a lot of central penetration. That’s important. We want to have emotional control and come back with a wonderful result which will allow us to have a chance of progressing to the group stages.”

With Sundowns having a number of international players in their team, Mokwena is confident the Brazilians can progress to the group stages after the two-legged preliminaries against Vita.

“It has been fruitful so far. The objective is to get to the group stages. We have to continue to fight to get to that level. We have a lot of players with African experience.

“It was interesting to see how Denis Onyango (Uganda) goes out and dominates for his country. Kennedy Mweene (Zambia), Anthony Laffor (Liberia), Mogakolodi Ngele (Botswana), Cuthbert Malajila and Khama Billiat (both Zimbabwe) play crucial matches for their countries.

“For us, it is to take the experiences those individuals have and bring it to the fore.”

– The Sunday Independent

Original source: Downs have the Congo fever