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Mokwena: MTN8 exit 'a bitter pill to swallow'

Orlando Pirates caretaker coach Rulani Mokwena admits that Saturday's defeat to Highlands Park was a "bitter pill to swallow" and has called on his players to "stick together".

The Buccaneers were still reeling from the sudden departure of head coach Milutin Sredojevic when they took on the Lions of the North in the MTN8 quarter-finals on Saturday, with Wayde Jooste's 82nd-minute goal firing the visitors into the semi-finals.

And Mokwena has conceded that Sredojevic's departure had a negative impact on his team.

"It was a difficult match but I think it was a reflection of the state that we are currently in‚" Mokwena said, as quoted by Times Live.

"You could see that on the pitch‚ there's a lot that has happened in the club in the last 48 hours.

"No excuses‚ but (it was) a bitter pill to swallow."

He added: "The defeat is one that we swallow and try to move on and improve from."

When asked if he would be putting his name in the hat for the head coach's position, Mokwena made it clear that now was not the time to discuss such matters, especially in the wake of a disappointing defeat.

"I think after a performance like that‚ I think it would be unwise to start thinking about myself‚" he explained.

"I think when you're being called to serve you always got to try to think less of yourself and try to put the team first. I think in this moment in time it becomes even very difficult to detach myself from what the team is going through.

"As much as I can explain and elaborate on what it means for me‚ I think as a club in this moment in time we are feeling a lot.

"Regardless of how I feel and regardless of the honour bestowed upon me to lead an institution like this‚ I think it counts for nothing when as a club and when as an institution we are not in a good way.

"So‚ I'm part of that and it becomes a bit difficult to detach myself emotionally and to even think of myself in this current situation.

"Like I said‚ all we have to do is stick together and try to raise the level of performance because of course 100% coaches will always see that the result is always a reflection of the performance.

"Although (on Saturday) it was slightly better‚ in the last three matches we have not played in the way we expect Orlando Pirates to play."