In April last year, Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane claimed the South African football community did not appreciate him, that he was misunderstood and would probably be better off elsewhere on the continent.
It was an emotional reaction sparked by several hefty fines from the PSL for his outbursts during post-match interviews and a humiliating 5-0 loss at home to Bloemfontein Celtic the night before.
Mosimane has matured since, choosing his words carefully when something has riled him up and has discovered that the notion that he is a misfit couldn’t be further from the truth.
About 18 months following his remarks on seemingly being punished by the PSL for his honesty, the former Bafana Bafana coach is on the cusp of continental glory.
Sundowns are a game away from being crowned champions of Africa as they travel to Egypt this week with a comfortable 3-0 advantage for Sunday’s second leg of the CAF Champions League final against Zamalek in Alexandria.
Further evidence of a level-headed Mosimane was on full display on Saturday afternoon when an Egyptian journalist asked him about the prospect of being the Zamalek boss in the not so distant future.
His response, if not prudently thought through, could have invited a serious backlash given statements the Sundowns coach has made in the past about not being valued by the football fraternity in his own country. Mosimane, however, was humble and cool as a cucumber.
“What have I achieved? Zamalek are big boys in Africa. They have won this trophy five times,” he said.
“I have not won anything. If you look at the two clubs (Sundowns and Zamalek), we are a small fish. You guys there in Egypt have a rich history, and ours is small in comparison.
“I don’t have the kind of CV that would get me that job. I am honestly flattered, but that job is too big for me.
“It is only now that South Africa is slowly understanding continental football. I wish we could have league games like this (packed venue, decked in the Sundowns yellow).”
As the press conference concluded, the travelling Egyptian media had even more respect and admiration for Mosimane. Ditto the local media.
The coach had been able to remain calm on the back of an emphatic victory at the Lucas Moripe Stadium, perhaps it was also due to the fact that the much coveted Champions League title was not in the bag just yet and any statements to the contrary would have been safely stored away and used to shame Mosimane should Sundowns be shocked away in Egypt.
Zamalek are almost unbeatable there despite the fact that the Brazilians beat them 2-1 there in July during their group stage match.
Should Sundowns complete the job, then Mosimane would certainly become a continental figure and his past comments about having unfinished business with the national team would no longer be a simple rant or sour grapes after the SA Football Association (Safa) dismissed him with two years left on his contract.
He would be an automatic candidate to take over when incumbent Bafana mentor Shakes Mashaba has run his race.
Mosimane has made it clear that there is some way to go in polishing his credentials, suggesting that he might want to hold on to the Sundowns coaching job for a few more years.
But keep in mind that Mosimane was speaking well aware of the fact that his side still has another 90 minutes at the Borg El Arab Stadium.
Trust that he will certainly not hold back when the final whistle blows for full-time in Alexandria and Sundowns, in front of an expected crowd of at least 70 000, even though there are talks of the venue being restricted to 20 000 because of political upheavals, are crowned champions of Africa’s premier club competition.
Follow Mazola Molefe on [email protected]