Mokwena opens up after his divorce with Mamelodi Sundowns – ‘My hand was forced’

Premier Soccer League champions Mamelodi Sundowns confirmed the exit of coach Rhulani Mokwena after an arguably successful on-pitch relationship.

When he was confirmed as the sole head coach early in 2022/23, the 37-year-old helped Masandawana win two league titles and the African Football League. He also reached the MTN8 final, twice, and once for the Nedbank Cup.

In the last two editions, the Brazilians reached the Caf Champions League semi-final stage but were undone by Wydad Athletic and Esperance respectively. However, the club sealed their place for the 2025 expanded Fifa Club.

It came as a surprise when the two parties decided to part ways. Mokwena has now opened up, insisting it was not his wish to quit.

Mamelodi Sundowns confirm Rulani Mokwena's exit
Rhulani Mokwena – Photo by Icon Sport

‘It makes no sense'

The tactician argues he has been doing things the right way, and hinted he did not like the reported changes that were to be implemented

“It makes no sense to me but there’s a lot of things in life that don’t make sense and they happen, you’ve just got to accept,” he said in his interview with MSW.

“I am not sure if I am blessed with much wisdom to comprehend some of the things like this. Some strange things happen but that’s the game. 

“What I am accepting is the fact that at 37 I’ve coached two of the biggest teams in South African football, I’ve won as a coach, seven trophies, I’ve won four league titles, I have won Coach of the Season three times.

“I leave with a record that says 91 games played, 60 games won, nine lost, and 11 draws. So when I look at that I am extremely proud, proud of the Sundowns players because I am crazy, I don’t know how they coped with me but I am crazy and I come with crazy ideas and crazy things. But, they breathed life into my ideas,” Mokwena continued.

Mamelodi Sundowns

Mokwena adamant he didn't want to leave Sundowns

After Bongani Zungu's shock exit, Mokwena hinted things were not right and that he was powerless in dictating the players he wanted. Rumours have it that a rift between him and the sporting director Flemming Berg widened with the signing of Thembinkosi Lorch from Orlando Pirates in the January transfer window.

Despite that, Mokwena insists it was not his intention to leave the club, “You know how it works in football, you get a phone call and you have to go into a meeting and discuss, discuss where the team is, where the team was, where it went right and celebrate the achievements and you’ve also got to discuss the failures and those were discussed,” he continued.

“After [the meeting] it was decided to mutually separate. I didn’t want to leave, I have to make that clear that I didn’t want to leave. But I think my hand was forced even though I, well, there’s a lot of things I can’t talk about because I’ve signed a confidentiality clause that prohibits me from speaking about some of the details.”

Sundowns have not yet confirmed a new coach, but Mangoba Mngqithi will take over on an interim basis.

The Brazilians are set to leave for Austria in the next couple of days where they will play several teams including Neymar's Al Hilal.

Mokwena opens up after his divorce with Mamelodi Sundowns – ‘My hand was forced’
Willis Sob

Willis Sob is an experienced journalist who has been in the game since 2009, covering major assignments around the continent.
His hunger for African football is unmatched, always getting the best angles and facts to feed the fans and quench their thirst.