Exclusive: Rulani Mokwena breaks silence on Khuliso Mudau “bullet” note

Exclusive: Rulani Mokwena breaks silence on Khuliso Mudau “bullet” note

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena has responded to the reaction of his leaked note to defender Khuliso Mudau during the Nedbank Cup final against Orlando Pirates last weekend.

A picture taken by photographer Vincent Matlou, popularly known as Vino Snap, has gone viral, showing the Downs mentor reminding the player “I said I would take a bullet for you, I am asking you not to give up on me.” 

This was after Mudau had been treated for a shoulder injury and had it heavily strapped, suggesting he might need to be taken off early in the first half. 

Social media questioned the ethics around Matlou releasing the pictures to the public four days after the match in Nelspruit, but Mokwena told SABC Sport he sees nothing wrong. 

“I actually have no problem with what Vino did because I’ve written a lot of notes to players for years now. I’ve even written worse stuff," said the DStv Premiership Coach of the Season nominee.

"So, doing this makes me happy because it exposes Sailors’ [Mudau] character. It exposes this group, when I say they are very good people – loyal, honest and selfless. The bullet thing was about something personal Sailor had been going through – I don’t want to talk too much about it.

"But I had said the day before, I’d take a bullet for him. It’s strange how life works. The real winner here is Sailor – he’s proven his loyalty and commitment because we all saw how he played.

"He was one of our best players during the entire match, except that one costly mistake, but what an amazing soldier.” 

Mudau not only stayed on the pitch in the fixture Sundowns eventually lost 2-1 to Pirates, but he is currently part of the Bafana Bafana squad set to play back-to-back World Cup qualifiers against Nigeria and Zimbabwe. 

“Many footballers avoid playing, even with the smallest pain, but seeing him not letting the coach down, not letting his teammates down, not letting his club down and pushing through the pain after that note – and even how he played AFCON with a grade 3 ankle injury – shows how much he loves football,” Mokwena added. 

“Some players fake injuries and are happy to not play, yet receive salaries. But I really admire players who play beyond injuries because they know the team needs them.

"The shoulder dislocation, although it causes severe discomfort and possible swelling, can be supported after reinserting it in the ball and sock joint, without tearing the ligaments. It’s not an injury that should take you off.” 

The Sundowns coach similarly noted the character of striker Lucas Ribeiro, who was also forced off the pitch in the later stages of the clash. 

“[Ribeiro] broke his hand, but created an amazing goal for Themba Zwane. But the injury was so severe we couldn’t take that risk. The first thing he does when he comes off is: “I’m sorry coach” with, tears.

"He wanted to be on the pitch, but we decided it can’t be done. Sailor is at Bafana now because he’s ok – I think. He’s not perfect, but probably good to go for Bafana, which is good news as he didn’t need surgery.

"They don’t make them like that anymore – players who would do anything to be on the pitch. These types of players are a good example for the current generation. I think football without investment isn’t football. It’s not worth being involved in,” concluded Mokwena.

READ: Mixed feelings for injured Sundowns players at Bafana Bafana