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HomeDStv PremiershipRulani - You Can't Compare Mabena & Mofokeng

Rulani – You Can’t Compare Mabena & Mofokeng

Mamelodi Sundowns head coach Rulani Mokwena says Siyabonga Mabena and Relebohile Mofokeng can’t be compared when questioned over game-time this season.

Mabena, 17, made his professional debut last season where he featured five times, with a total of 99 minutes on the field of play.

This campaign, he netted his first goal, in six appearances, with his 40 minutes against Friday on Saturday evening taking him to 88 minutes on the pitch.

“The young Mabena was good, he did well, but still I asked for productivity, it was like [Thapelo] Maseko’s performance against Chiefs,” Mokwena said about his cameo.

“Industrious, energetic [but show me] something, a chance, a shot, you know what I mean? Productive. But these kids I have to spend time with them on the pitch, Maseko also, he comes on and he’s industrious, but the shot is there, the ball goes out.”

When questioned about what Mabena needs to do to feature more regularly like his fellow School of Excellence product at Pirates, Mokwena suggested he needs to keep Mabena, like many of the other youngsters in the squad, grounded.

Mofokeng, who is three years older has emerged within the PSL Young Player of the Season discussion, having played 28 games for the club in all competitions, with three goals and four assists and 1640 minutes on the pitch under Jose Riveiro this season.

“The environments are completely different, number one, number two is; the feeling I have, the youth of today thinks everything is easy, it’s one good performance, oh I must start now,” Mokwena said.

“The other day we were complimenting Mshishi for 400 appearances, we went down history lane, Mshishi was signed at Sundowns, you know how many months he waited for his debut? Nine! Nine months and then you see the longevity.

“So I tell the kids they have incredible talent, but the problem is it’s one good performance and then oh now back pages, on social media what what, the player stops working hard. And I would rather have longevity players like [Mshishi] than one-season wonders.

“I’ve seen them so many times in my career, so many times, these one season-wonders and then they just whistle away, so I try to keep them on the edge, good performances. 

“There’s an interview with [Robin] van Persie and Cristiano Ronaldo who were speaking to their sons, Ronaldo took his son to Madeira where he grew up in Portugal and he showed his son where he slept, where he grew up and he’s son said you lying that’s now where you grew up. Did you really sleep there?

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“The kids today grow up and society is completely against the upbringing of these kids, that’s my feeling, not for every coach, just the feeling I have about these kids, it’s the same way I have to continue with Mabena, Ntando, Thando, Kutlwano, Mali, Gabi, these kids have incredible potential.

“But you have to dim the light a little bit yourself because nobody else is going to, and they have to understand life is hard, things are not handed out, life is very, very hard and when I look at them and see the desire, appetite, they will play, but they need to understand life is hard, this is why these kids break down and then the only way the can learn how to support themselves is through substance abuse, then you ask yourself what happened?

“But they need to understand things aren’t easy so we need to protect them from the ills that society throws at them, sometimes you have to be the one who develops the hardships intentionally so they understand the journey of a professional footballer. Because the journey is not easy, it’s tough.”

Lorenz Kohler
Lorenz Kohler
Lorenz Köhler is an award-winning South African football journalist. Having cut his teeth in the industry working at Kick-Off Magazine, he is now iDiski Times' senior digital content writer. He specialises in breaking top African football stories and transfers with a major focus on the 'big-three' Mamelodi Sundowns, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates and CAF inter-club and international competitions. In 2021 he was listed amongst the top-five journalists under 30 in Print Media for the AIPS Awards.