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'Eagle' Mokwena prepared to pluck out feathers to be a success

Head coach Rhulani Mokwena said that he did not fear the pressure of coaching at a big club like Orlando Pirates.

FILE: Orlando Pirates coach Rhulani Mokwena during a training session. Picture: Twitter/@Orlandopirates

JOHANNESBURG - Head coach Rhulani Mokwena said that he did not fear the pressure of coaching at a big club like Orlando Pirates.

The Sea Robbers play Kaizer Chiefs in the Telkom Knockout quarterfinal on Saturday with the teams in contrasting form.

Chiefs are five points clear at the top of the table while Pirates lie in eighth place. Their controversial win over Highlands Park in midweek was just their third in the league this season as the Buccaneers go into the clash 10 points behind their Soweto rivals on the league table.

Ahead of the encounter, in typical Mokwena fashion, he referred to how a coach needed to be able to adapt to what the club needed in a specific phase of its development.

“In this particular moment, Orlando Pirates doesn’t need a vocal Rhulani Mokwena. When you see what we are going through, you understand that the only talking that will do any justice is the talking on the pitch. You have to be able to say like an eagle, I’m prepared to pluck my own claws, break my own beak and take out my own feathers. When he gets to 40, the eagle has a big decision to make - do I want to prolong my stay, or do I want to die? So as a coach, you then adapt to the environment and you adapt to the conditions,” he said.

The 32-year-old was also full of praise for the attacking threat that Chiefs posed, particularly when it came to their front three and the ways in which they interchanged roles.

"There is a lot of flexibility with how they approach matches and sometimes its Nurkovic with Billiat or Nurkovic with Castro and then Billiat as the third striker and how they orientate that throughout the match also changes, so we are aware of that," he said.

Much has been made of the officiating leading up to the match, with Pitso Mosimane saying that Chiefs benefitted from refereeing mistakes in their win over the weekend.

Mokwena admitted that the goal his team scored in the win over Highlands Park was offside and that Tshegofatso Mabasa should have been sent off for a two-footed lunge.

He said that the officials were "crying out for help".

"I will not talk about the referees, they make mistakes, and everyone makes mistakes. I think what is happening is a clear signal for assistance. I don’t know what help that it is, it could be technological, it could be more resources, but the referees are crying out for help," he said.

Kick-off on Saturday is at 3pm.

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