Mamelodi Sundowns and Rulani Mokwena discuss parting ways

SABC Sport has it on good authority that Mamelodi Sundowns and coach Rulani Mokwena are in talks to cut ties just 12 months after agreeing a four-year contract.

The final and official decision is yet to be made following tense discussions, but the probability Mokwena will step down is high. It’s understood at the centre of this shocking development at Chloorkop is the broken working relationship between the coach and sporting director Flemming Berg.

Berg, who worked as a talent development manager in his home country for the Danish FA and was also an international scout at Chelsea, joined The Brazilians in April 2022 while Mokwena was co-coach alongside Manqoba Mngqithi.

Mokwena would later be appointed the sole head coach with the role given to Berg effectively making him superior to the technical team. According to information gathered by SABC Sport, the two have had difficulties pulling in the same direction for some time now.Furthermore, this could be escalated by the approach to the transfer window ahead of the start of the 2024/25 season.

Sundowns have released defender Brian Onyango, midfielders Bongani Zungu and Gaston Sirino as well as striker Thabiso Kutumela, while attacker Junior Mendieta told a radio station in his native Argentina that he is likely to move to Greece. But Sundowns, who are set for pre-season camp in Austria later this month, have yet to announce any new signings.

It now looks likely that Mokwena will leave Sundowns, although talks were ongoing at the time of publishing – leaving room for a possible U-turn. The coach was not present on Monday when the first group of players returned to Chloorkop for medicals, although it’s not clear whether Mokwena was expected to report for duty with pre-season only scheduled for later in the week.

It’s understood he, like the rest of the squad, had just returned from holiday. But chances the former Orlando Pirates and Chippa United mentor will remain in charge of the Tshwane giants are said to be quite slim.

The public broadcaster also learnt that Mokwena, when asked what he believed to be the solution to the fallout, suggested taking a year-long sabbatical and allowing Berg to see out his project with the club.

Indications are that the coach felt this is the most crucial point of the season and the recruitments for the team – spearheaded by Flemming – remain the priority.

Mokwena is fresh from winning the DStv Premiership in May and subsequently being crowned the Coach of the Season.The title became Downs’ seventh consecutive championship. However, even on the back of this success the 37-year-old had publicly raised doubts over his future by insinuating all was not well.

Sundowns also clinched the inaugural African Football League [AFL] in November when they beat Morocco outfit Wydad Casablanca 3-2 on aggregate over two legs.But one of the big prizes was the CAF Champion League, where they were eliminated in the semifinals for the second year in a row. In total Mokwena has delivered four league trophies for Sundowns, two of them as co-coach with Mngqithi and the others since becoming sole head coach.

(story credit: SABC Sport)

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