Former Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane is on the verge of adding another massive accolade to his collection as his Al Ahly side will battle Zamalek in the Caf Champions League final on Friday night.
Having already established himself as South Africa’s most successful coach by dwarfing the four championship titles of Gordon Igesund and Gavin Hunt, it was not surprising that he enjoyed the chance to prove himself against the Egyptian giants Al Ahly.
While some may argue that Igesund and Hunt won some of their titles with fewer resources than high-spending Sundowns, Mosimane, in addition to his five championship titles and numerous national trophies with Downs, also differs from the fact that he also conquered Africa than he led Masandawana to the 2016 Caf Champions League title.
Now he’s only 90 minutes away from building his legend even further, provided Al Ahly can beat their bitter Egyptian rival Zamalek. It was of course Zamalek who defeated Mosimane’s Sundowns team 3-1 on two legs in the 2016 Champions League final.
There is no question that African football is dominated by countries in the west and north. The only exception is the centrally located DR Congo, which was also very successful in the Champions League.
But since the tournament began 55 years ago, Mosimane has been one of only two South African born coaches to have won the tournament. The other was Zambian Ronald Mkhandawire, who was briefly with Orlando Pirates and who was in charge when they won in 1995. Incidentally, almost exclusively North and West African coaches as well as a number from Europe and South America won.
Portugal-born coach Manuel Jose holds the record with four titles, all at Al Ahly, which have won him eight times (three more than the next most successful team, Zamalek.
No other coach has won the Champions League more than twice, and only two coaches – Argentine-born Oscar Fullone (also a former Sundowns coach) and Egyptian Mahmoud El-Gohary – have made it to two different clubs.
For all its comparative riches, South African football had little to offer in the past 25 years – winning the Pirates’ Champions League in 1995, the African Nations Cup in 1996 and the 2016 Sundowns triumph was the country’s triumph only real, great African successes. It will therefore be a significant victory for this country if Mosimane can claim another victory and many South Africans will support Al Ahly on Friday night.
For starters, as mentioned above, his appetite for success and burning desire to be the best.
« I like to win even if it’s a friendly game. The guys know that if we lose a friendly game, I get upset because I don’t want bad habits. People need to know that we play to win. It’s a culture. You have to win! You know. I can’t stand to lose. I work very hard and I want people around me to have the same mentality. ”
Then there is his personality. A bit like Jose Mourinho, Mosimane can be a prickly character. There is an element of ego and arrogance in him and he has had run-ins in the past with opposition coaches and the media.
But there is also a sometimes perky, dry sense of humor in the man and it has probably softened a little with age; Mosimane is self-aware – his comments are often calculated and he knows exactly what he is doing.
« I’m like this because I grew up this way, » said Mosimane in the same interview. “I was told to give my opinion. My son [Rea] is here and always asks questions. I told him you always have to have a « why ». .
« You must be curious. My son is always touching and opening things to see what’s inside. I am not shy about starting something. I know it could backfire, but I’ll start it. I play the way I want to play and everyone says we’ll see where they end up with this thing. As long as I can secure it, it’s okay. ”
At the same time, he has a gentle touch when it comes to his players and there is no doubt that Mosimane has achieved one of the most important foundations in coaching – improving individual players.
Percy Tau, Keagan Dolly, Khama Billiat, Denis Onyango, Hlompho Kekana, Themba Zwane and Gaston Sirino are just a few examples of players whose careers have flourished massively under the former Jomo Cosmos midfielder.
« Khama will tell you about Pitso, the man makes you the best, » said the late Anele Ngcongca, who was tragically killed in a car accident earlier this week, earlier in an interview with Far Post. “Without a doubt he (Khama) was good, but Pitso is kind of a coach who takes a good player and makes him a world beater. ”
And it’s not just on the field that Mosimane puts his work into action – numerous stories of his care and thoughts for the wellbeing of players in their home environment have surfaced.
« He’s changed the lives of many players, both football and social, » former Mamelodi Sundowns captain Method Mwanjali told Goal.
One thing is for sure, Mosimane’s appetite for success won’t be satisfied by a Friday night win, and it will be fascinating to see where the 56-year-old’s coaching journey takes him over the next decade – it could even be in Europe, or maybe one day he will have a job at Bafana Bafana.
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Al Ahly SC, CAF Champions League, Zamalek SC, Egyptian Premier League, Confederation of African Football, Cairo Derby, Pitso Mosimane, Wydad AC, Mamelodi Sundowns F. . C.. .
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