Fireworks on and off the pitch when it comes to Sead Ramovic, Rulani Mokwena

Mamelodi Sundowns head coach Rhulani Mokwena

FILE - Mamelodi Sundowns head coach Rhulani Mokwena. Photo: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Feb 29, 2024


Forget about the impending Soweto derby between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs as the saucy clash of the coming month.

After all, such has been the bromance between the two former giants of the local game in recent years that to still call theirs a rivalry would be an insult to the word.

Now, our football has a new rivalry. There is a match that could well see heated exchanges not only on the pitch, but on the sidelines as well.

This is a clash in which the word ‘respect’ is unlikely to feature. And it is happening next week.

They better have television cameras and security galore out at Mbombela Stadium on the evening of Wednesday, March 6, when TS Galaxy host Mamelodi Sundowns in a DStv Premiership match, following the recent utterances by the coaches of the two sides.

Will they, or won’t they shake hands?

Were I a betting man, I would definitely wager all my assets on Sead Ramovic and Rulani Mokwena not shaking hands at the start of the match.

Yes, Mokwena has said, “If he wants to shake my hand, I will shake his hand, no problem”.

The reality, though, is that will not happen. The animosity between the two runs that deep.

Damn, I’d probably have a banker on the two coaches exchanging expletives during the match and needing to be separated by the fourth officials on a number of occasions throughout the 90 minutes.

To think some of us were of the view the bad blood between the two was washed down with the festive desserts.

Of course, it would be folly to imagine Christmas cards were exchanged. But such is the nature of the beautiful game that you always think the rivalry is done away with the day after the match.

To the uninitiated, Ramovic and Mokwena became ‘enemies’ following Galaxy’s Carling Knockout Cup victory over the Brazilians prior to the Mpumalanga side reaching the final.

Following that match – in which Sundowns’ Bongani Zungu received a red card for a vicious tackle that left Bernard Parker with a broken leg – Mokwena claimed they lost because he’d fielded a second-string team, an excuse that Ramovic found not only “cheap” and “disrespectful” to him and his players at Galaxy, but to the Sundowns stars who played that night.

Just last week, Mokwena gave the impression all was forgiven and forgotten between them when he told the media at a pre-Nedbank Cup conference that he’d made a direct call to Ramovic.

But the Serb revealed during his own similar platform that matters had actually been escalated by that call, Ramovic telling the media that Mokwena had thrown F-bombs his way during a call in which the Sundowns coach asked the TS Galaxy boss if he knew who he was.

Do you know who my parents are?

“He yelled and screamed, talked for 10 minutes and entertained me with nonsense, saying to me, ‘Who the f**k are you to come to my f***en country and talk to me like this? Do you know who my parents are? Be careful how you talk, because you are in my f***en country’.

“I said to him I don’t care who your parents are, because I did not come to South Africa to argue with anyone or fight with anyone or to make headlines, but rather to improve this club, and that if he leaves the club, the new coach finds a top club with which he will have more success.”

Mokwena is South African football royalty, his father being former star Julius “KK” Sono, the son of the legendary former Orlando Pirates star Eric “Scara” Sono, who is also the father of the revered Jomo Sono – Rulani’s uncle.

On Tuesday night, after their victory over AmaZulu, Mokwena refused to respond to the claims. With his left hand on his chin, he took a sip of his coffee and then shook his head before saying: “You don’t need to hear my side of the story. I don’t think you’d like to hear that.

“He (Ramovic) is right ... let’s leave him to be right. I am wrong. I am the bad guy.”

The Sundowns coach then told the media to give Ramovic the attention he seemingly desperately craves.

“You guys don’t see the underlying message, all Sead is crying for. He has won five games in a row – give him praise, give him attention. Why don’t you put him in the headlines?

“Give him what he wants. If not, he goes and seeks for it, and then he comes for guys like me. He is crying out for attention – give him a little bit, spend more time with him.”

Not that Mokwena is bothered about the ‘attack’. “I don’t mind if he does come for me. But if you go into the club, then you are disrespecting the Motsepe family, who are giving so much into the sport,” he said in response to Ramovic highlighting the fact that Sundowns spent millions on players.

Ironically, though, Ramovic had praised Sundowns as a club, even wishing them well in the CAF Champions League and saying though he will beat them next Wednesday, he knows they will go on to win the domestic championship.

“Why should I say something about Galaxy? It’s not Sead’s team,” Mokwena explained.

“It is Tim Sukazi’s club, and I respect him. I have respect for South Africans like Tim, who work very hard to make their clubs what they are.”

That he has no respect for Ramovic is evident. And it goes without saying that the feeling from the other side is mutual.

It is a recipe for a humdinger of a match next Wednesday no doubt, a clash not to be missed that is likely to produce fireworks – especially on the touchline.


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