Mokwena has endured a tricky start to his tenure as Pirates head coach, the 32-year-old South African taking over after Milutin Sredojevic’s sudden resignation on August 16. Mokwena has not won any of his four games in charge thus far, with Pirates knocked out of both the Caf Champions League and MTN8.
The pressure is certainly on as Pirates prepare to play Chippa United at Orlando Stadium in the Absa Premiership on Saturday.
Mokwena, however, is a young coach with plenty of pedigree as an assistant to both Pitso Mosimane at Mamelodi Sundowns and Sredojevic at Pirates, and surely deserves far more of an opportunity to show what he can do.
“I am Orlando Pirates, and I will be there until Pirates say they no longer want me. I say this because I mean it. I grew up as part of the club and I feel all the pain, the ecstasy and the joy. I have said to the players I am prepared to be thrown into the fire if that is best for the club,” said Mokwena, after pointing out that he had rejected offers from elsewhere in the past to stay at the Buccaneers.
“It is not about other offers. The moment finds the man, and when the moment came (to be Pirates head coach), it found me. When that happens you go and do the business as best you can.
“We have very talented, hungry and ambitious group of players here, and at the same time we have a very strong technical team that work very well together.”
Mokwena says much of what he has tried to do with the players’ mentalities during this spell of poor results has been to simply remind them of the success they have had in the past.
“Fortunately I know them (the players) very well and they know me. We haven’t changed much of the game model built by all of us (under Sredojevic). They have all contributed to how Pirates have played in the last couple of seasons.
“It is just to remind them of who they are and the qualities they possess, to remind them of certain patterns of play, and work on new ideas.
“We kept two clean sheets in the last three matches and we know we could have won all three games. We dominated against Golden Arrows, we had 71% ball possession, so the trajectory is upward.
“We believe if we continue to work hard, we will get to where we deserve to be.”