July 19, 2022

Co-coaching success stories in Mzansi

When the pairing of Manqoba Mngqithi and Rulani Mokoena were named to replace Pitso Mosimane at the helm of Mamelodi Sundowns, there were few who believed a partnership under such pressure would be able to survive.

But the two, who have had a spat or two over the last 24 months, have confounded expectations and proven more than able in keeping their partnership going. In fact, they have kept Sundowns at the top of the pile and taken them to two more championships.


It is common thought that these kinds of arrangements do not last long, but is that necessarily the case in
South African football when we consider some of the other better known pairings?

Des Backos/Alex Forbes: Backos was a star performer for Highlands Park in his playing days and also competed in the US and at Stoke City in England. Forbes was a former Scotland international and Arsenal legend who had moved out to South Africa. They were made an unlikely pair but took Rangers to the league title in 1986 with the likes of Shane MacGregor and Les Grobler rattling in the goals.

Clive Barker/Butch Webster: The pair took Durban City to the title in both 1982 and 1983 and kept up their partnership until 1984 when Barker moved to Bush Bucks. Barker went on to become an Africa Cup of Nations-winning coach with Bafana Bafana. Webster had been a member of the Florida Albion side that reached the 1973 Castle Cup final before coaching with Barker. He went to the US on a company transfer some 30 years ago.


Fadlu Davids/Mandla Ncikazi: An unusual combination of two former Maritzburg United coaches who had
been downgraded to assistant level under Joe Zinnbauer at Orlando Pirates. Ncikazi had left his job at Golden Arrows for the glamour of the Soweto side and within one game was propelled, along with Davids, to take over from Zinnbauer. The pair worked together for the rest of the 2021/22 season, but Davids left Pirates after a campaign in which they reached the African Confederation Cup final but still came up empty-handed.

Miguel Gamondi/Neil Tovey: When Miguel Angel Cappa unexpectedly quit Mamelodi Sundowns midway
through the 2005/06 season, Gamondi and Tovey (pictured) took over. Both were assistants at Downs but
went on to take the team to the league title. However, just seven games into the next season and with results still looking positive, they were inexplicably sacked by Patrice Motsepe and replaced by Gordon Igesund.


Farouk Khan/Boebie Solomons: They led Santos to ABSA Cup success in 2003 when they beat Ajax Cape Town in the final at Athlone Stadium. Solomons had started that season as coach but was then replaced by Muhsin Ertugral, who had Khan as his assistant reprising their pairing from Kaizer Chiefs’ days. Ertugral did not fit well at the Cape Town club, leaving Khan behind with Solomons brought back to partner him.

Mabhuti Khenyeza/Vusimuzi Vilakazi: The pair completed last season with only a single loss after Lehlohonolo Seema was fired and, as a result, have been handed the reigns at Golden Arrows for the 2022/23 campaign in what must be considered something of a gamble by owner Mato Madlala. Both will be taking on head coaching duties for the first time.

John Maduka/Lehlohonolo Seema: The pair coached together for 45 games over two separate seasons at
Bloemfontein Celtic after Steve Komphela’s frustrated departure in late-2018 and before Seema went solo at Chippa United. Maduka then continued on his own and took the club to the Nedbank Cup final in the COVID- 19 bubble in 2020.

Manqoba Mngqithi/Rulani Mokoena: Mngqithi coached at Golden Arrows first and was on his own as a head coach for almost a decade before Pitso Mosimane asked him to come to Mamelodi Sundowns as his assistant. Mokoena started under Mosimane but went out on his own at Orlando Pirates and Chippa United, both for brief spells. The two were assisting at Sundowns when Mosimane left in 2020 and appointed to take over as owner Patrice Motsepe looked to keep continuity.

By Mark Gleeson

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