Rulani Mokwena always knew becoming a head coach would come with huge expectations but he was not ready for the curveball that was thrown at him when Micho Sredojevic suddenly resigned, throwing Orlando Pirates into chaos, and he was asked to do damage control.
Starting under such circumstances would be difficult even for the most experienced of coaches but the 34-year-old believes this challenge is there to make him a stronger and better coach.
“The reality is I have always been of the opinion that regardless of the club or circumstances, my first job as a head coach would be difficult because there is huge expectation,” said Mokwena after the Buccaneers’ goalless draw against Golden Arrows on Wednesday night.
“That’s the reality of it and I take it as an opportunity because part of challenges and difficulties are opportunities. If you are pessimistic in your view you crumble and you don’t rise above the challenges.
“But if you are optimistic you look for the opportunities and positives in the situation. And that’s it for me right now – it is to try to say this is the moment where you are training your muscles of perseverance and overcoming difficulty. It will probably pay off later in my career,” said a philosophical Mokwena.
This challenge could easily break him because if he fails to steer the Buccaneers’ ship into calmer waters, he will always live with the stigma of having failed at a club with one of the most enviable squads in the country and that could hinder his chances of coaching elsewhere after this.”
However, he is putting on a brave face.
“For me right now it is about trying to help this club overcome this difficulty and turn back the tide. I still have 20-30 more years to coach and this period will mean something in the future and I will only understand why it had to happen later on.
“I am very selfless, I put my emotion to one the side and I focus on Orlando Pirates because of the support and belief they had in me when they gave me this opportunity. You must understand what this means to Orlando Pirates. To be the first black head coach of this club at my age is enormous for the club.
“It would be completely selfish for me to even think about myself. It goes beyond myself.
“And once you are given a responsibility that goes beyond you, you must know there is a price on the ticket. The magnitude of the expectation is humungous,” he said.
He admitted however that he wished the transition had been a little smoother and promised to use the upcoming Fifa break to try and stabilise the team.