Orlando Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic says his outspoken assistant Rulani Mokwena will become the Alex Ferguson of the Soweto club.
Pirates coach has successfully guided his Bucs troops to a second successive league win over rivals Kaizer Chiefs in the Soweto derby Absa Premiership match at the FNB Stadium on Saturday and was asked if he planned to emulate Ferguson and remain with the club for many years.
Ferguson was Manchester United manager for 26 years and led the English Premier League club to 38 major trophies during his stay.
“Whoa‚ whoa‚ whoa!” was Sredojevic’s immediate reaction to the question.
“This is a bit too much for me.
“Pirates will be much more after me.
“I have been lucky‚ blessed and privileged to be in this position.
“I don’t want to think anything beyond the next match.”
Sredojevic instead suggested‚ without mentioning his name‚ that his assistant Mokwena was capable of becoming the Ferguson of Pirates‚ pointing to his age and coaching acumen as his reason for the endorsement.
“It is not fair to talk about this because it is very‚ very far‚” he said.
“But besides me there is a person (Mokwena) that I believe one day‚ when like in the relay in athletics‚ I will give the baton to and he will go all the way.
“He (Mokwena) will last as long as Alex Ferguson (at Man United).”
To the gathered media there was no doubt as to who it was that Sredojevic was referring to.
“I will not talk about whom but you can guess‚” said a smiling Sredojevic.
“It’s nice to see that we are working well and he (Mokwena) is growing.
“I’m so proud and privileged to work with him.”
Mokwena attracted the most attention in the days leading up to the derby after he suggested early last week that the Chiefs bench led by Italian coach Giovanni Solinas was not as strong as it was during former mentor Steve Komphela’s time at Naturena.
He also said Chiefs striker Leonardo Castro would not only miss the derby but was probably relaxing with his wife in Colombia following an ankle injury which had kept him out of action for a month before the derby.
Castro did‚ however‚ play 74 minutes of the game on Saturday but his performance was way below par with his gingerly walk at the best of times suggesting he was far from full recovery.