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By The Numbers: Rulani Mokoena’s Record At Sundowns

Following the breaking news that Rulani Mokoena has left his job as Sundowns coach, we bring you the key stats and facts from his time at the club.

Rulani Mokoena

Following the breaking news that Rulani Mokoena has left his job as Sundowns coach, we bring you the key stats and facts from his time at the club. The now-former Sundowns coach first took charge in October 2020, in a co-coaching role alongside Manqoba Mngqithi and Steke Komphela (Assistant). Two years later, he became sole head coach, following a restructuring at the club. This newsletter focuses on the 91 games and 618 days as sole head coach.

Overall Record

Altogether, Rhulani Mokwena leaves Sundowns having won 64% of the games that he oversaw in all competitions (P91 W58 D26 L7), the highest win rate of any coach to take charge of the Brazilians in the PSL era. When considering league games alone, that win rate goes up to 72%, winning 36 of the 50 games he oversaw.

*The games going to a shootout counted as a draw.

Mokoena Record By Month

An interesting way to look at Mokwena’s record is a monthly view. The 1 June Nedbank Cup final against Pirates meant that he oversaw games in 11 of the 12 months of the year. Unfortunately, defeat in that game leaves with a 0% win rate in that month. August (P7 W7) and January (P7 W7) were his favourite months at Downs, where he won 100% of his games (14 out of 14). His teams were equally sharp in the following months (83%-win rate in September & 78% in February), suggesting teams that were fast out of the blocks when a season started and after long breaks (2022 World Cup & 2023 AFCON). April (47%) & May (46%) were his worst months, and the only two months with a less than 50%-win rate, perhaps something to do with winning the league early. They won the league as early as 1 April in the 2022/23 season and 2 May in the 2023/24 campaign.

Record Compared To Other Sundowns Coaches

Two league titles and one African Football League title will pale in comparison to other coaches, including the co-coaching arrangement he was a part of (two titles and two domestic cups). But Mokwena’s 64%-win rate remains the highest among all Sundowns coaches in the PSL era.

  • 64% – Mokwena (P91 W58)
  • 62% – Mokwena, Mngqithi & co. (P111 W69)
  • 61% – Trott Moloto (P36 W32)
  • 60% – Antonio Lopez (P20 W12)

Other long-serving coaches Pitso Mosimane & Paul Dolezar won 56% of their games (all comps).

The Seven Defeats

Losing games has been a rare thing for Sundowns fans under his stewardship, with fans tasting open-play defeat just seven times. Indeed, four of his seven losses came in his final 13 games, meaning Downs lost just three of the first 78 games of his tenure.

Sundowns nearly achieved the unthinkable under him, going 29 games without defeat from the start of last season. They lost their final league game of the season to Cape Town City, and that was also Mokwena’s first and only defeat in league games as sole head coach. Domestically, Downs also lost twice in the Nedbank Cup (to Stellenbosch in 2023 and Pirates in the 2024 final). They lost one game in the AFL, and three in the Champions League, including a home & away reverse against Esperance in the semis.

A Note On Penalty Shootouts

In football record-keeping, games that go to penalty shootouts are regarded as draws, whether the team ends victorious or not in penalties. The shootout is technically a tie-breaker to separate teams that drew a game, the same way goal-difference, away goals, coin-tosses, etc. are used to break points and other goal ties. Downs were involved in 4 shootouts under Mokwena. Twice, Pirates got the better of them in penalties (2023 MTN8 and 2024 Nedbank Cup), but they won shootouts in the 2023 AFL (v Wydad) and the 2024 Nedbank Cup (v Tuks). Some records will reflect 60 wins, 22 draws, and 9 defeats, but using OPTA record-keeping standards, the correct record is open-play focused: 58 wins 26 draws, and 7 defeats. Impressive either way.

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