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Mokwena Addresses Challenges Faced by Young Players

  • April 14, 2024
  • 2 min read
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Mokwena Addresses Challenges Faced by Young Players

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena shed light on the struggles faced by young footballers in today’s professional game, using his player Siyabonga Mabena as an example.

Mabena impressed in Sundowns’ Nedbank Cup win over University of Pretoria on Friday, drawing comparisons to Orlando Pirates’ rising star Relebohile Mofokeng. However, Mokwena cautioned against instant success expectations.

“The environment is completely different,” Mokwena explained. “Young players often think one good performance guarantees a starting spot.”

He emphasized the importance of patience and perseverance, citing Themba Zwane’s long journey to reach 400 appearances for Sundowns.

“When Zwane joined the club,” Mokwena recalled, “he waited nine months for his debut. That’s the kind of dedication it takes.”

Mokoena stressed the need for young players to understand the harsh realities of professional football.

“They have talent,” he acknowledged, “but they can’t have an entitled attitude. Life is hard, and nothing comes easy.”

“They need to be humble and work hard,” he continued. “Sometimes, you even have to dim their light a little to prevent them from getting ahead of themselves.”

Mokwena sees his role as a mentor who prepares young players for the challenges ahead.

“We intentionally create hardships for them,” he revealed. “It’s to protect them from the difficulties they’ll face in the professional world. Being a footballer is tough, and they need to be prepared.

Mabena, who scored his first goal in the 3-1 win over Stellenbosch FC in September at the age of 16 and seven months, has only made six appearances for Sundows, with African giants grooming him slowly as he also features regularly in the DStv Diski Challenge.  

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Nkanyiso Mchunu

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