Mokwena savours maiden victory at Pirates

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JOHANNESBURG – Rhulani Mokwena buried himself in work to not only deal with the trying time Orlando Pirates found themselves in, but to also devise a strategy to get the club out of troubled waters.

The Buccaneers’ six-match winless run shook them to the core, leading to doubts of whether 32-year-old Mokwena has what it takes to lead a club of this magnitude following Micho Sredojevic’s shock resignation. Pirates finally won a match under Mokwena, beating Chippa United 2-1 at Orlando Stadium on Saturday. Mokwena was visibly relieved, but he wasn’t overly excited.

“I just work harder,” Mokwena said. “I try to be a better coach. I try to learn from the mistakes that I make. I watched all our games. I went back to the last seven games that we played this season. I tried to find patterns and then you also have to watch the next opposition which was Chippa.

The only distraction that you find is in your work. You try to block the noise and you just work. You try to be a better coach and you try to learn from your mistakes. You remain humble and try to be as focused as possible.”

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Siphesihle Ndlovu of Orlando Pirates is tackled by Boikanyo Komane of Chippa United during their match at Orlando Stadium on Saturday. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

The international break did Pirates the world of good. They returned fresher and driven to end their slump. But they still looked vulnerable at the back, with the Chill Boys finding it easy to penetrate them on the counter. Pirates have only kept two clean sheets in their five Absa Premiership matches. In Joris Delle, they have a goalkeeper who could change that.

The Frenchman looked good against Chippa, producing brilliant saves that kept Pirates in the match. He will face his biggest challenge this season when the Buccaneers visit Bidvest Wits at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday.

“We take it step by step,” Mokwena said. “Wits is another difficult one, a very difficult team. They are well-coached team with an experienced coach who knows how to win. They have a very strong defence.

You are going to have to work very hard to be able to get through the Wits defence, Tyson (Thulani Hlatshwayo) is strong and is a Bafana Bafana international. They have a very strong midfield full of quality.”

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Zakhele Lepasa of Orlando Pirates is challenged by Frederic Nsabiyumva of Chippa United. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Bonginkosi Ndadane

 

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