Mamelodi Sundowns head coach Rulani Mokwena has given his final comments on his touchline fracas with Kermit Erasmus, revealing the duo even exchanged messages afterwards.
Mokwena and Erasmus clashed during the first half of Saturday’s Carling Black Label Cup final after Tapelo Xoki got sent off for a bad tackle on Haashim Domingo.
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The Downs coach was visibly upset by the tackle or rather the reaction from the Pirates bench, as he explained to Robert Marawa on Monday, with Erasmus then jumping into the argument.
“I think I’m gonna speak about it for the very last time, because one of the reasons I’m gonna do that is because Kermit sent me a message just after 10pm and we exchanged texts and I think it ended right there,” he said on MSW.
“What I will say about it, if I look at the sequence of events: him scoring a fantastic goal in Polokwane against us, but I look at the celebration and how borderline it was in terms of possibly even lacking respect towards Sundowns and maybe even going to our supporters and wave.
“I then listened to some of the interviews he’s done and some of the things he’s said, which were completely incorrect and maybe even borderline, again borderline disrespectful not just the clubs, the fans but also the Motsepe Family for what what the club has done for him.
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“The, of course, the event on the touchline, because one the tackle that was made on someone who I thought was a very close friend of his while they were teammates.
“Haashim Domingo and Kermit, for me while they were together on the pitch, in the squad they looked quite close to each other.
“And my reaction to the tackle was not actually even to the tackle, was towards Zakhele Lepasa who started clapping towards the red card and clapping towards Xoki as if to encourage that type of behaviour.
“Funny enough, Zakhele Lepase came to me after the match and apologised and said ‘coach I’m also a victim of a career-threatening injury’.
“Kermit then remonstrated and said things towards me that I felt I did not deserve, especially from Kermit, particularly with what we had been through, there is a lot of things.”
However, Mokwena also insisted that the incident is behind him after he and Erasmus exchanged text messages and people shouldn’t forget players as well as coaches also carry emotional baggage, while insisting it wasn’t a “Kermit vs Rulani” debate but rather a coach getting upset over the career-threatening tackle on one of his players.
“But to end it all, we exchanged texts yesterday, we spoke about and I think for me it’s not just the one isolated incident. There does seem to be a bit more from the goal celebration to the interview and now to this.
“And then of course like I said to him even at the end of our conversation ‘love and light! I wish you love and light’.
“Because we should also never forget that at times we dehumanise athletes and we dehumanise coaches and we look at people and we think they don’t have emotions, they don’t have heart, they don’t have things that are troubling them.
“And Kermit to be fair has gone through a lot over the last year or so and things shouldn’t really be blown out of proportion and we should look to assist these players, because at times they act out of themselves but only because maybe they have certain emotional traumas, if you want to call it that, that they themselves are also still struggling with.
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“When you look at the sequence of events that I’ve just spoken about they lead to telling you it’s not even personal for me, it’s not a Kermit vs Rulani issue.
“I just happened to be a coach that got very upset on behalf of his player because nowhere I’m going to be on the touchline and I’m going to get one of my players [injured].”