JOHANNESBURG – Five years ago in the corridor of the Royal Marang Hotel in Rustenburg, Pitso Mosimane was told he wasn’t good enough to carry on coaching Bafana Bafana. The national team had gotten off to horror start on the road to qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, only managing a 1-1 draw at home against lowly Ethiopia.
A few months earlier the same Mosimane had been given a stay of execution, although Bafana had also nose-dived in their quest to make it to the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. But this was merely a delay of the inevitable, Mosimane being stranded on death row as his bosses grew impatient with what they felt were not necessarily positive results.
When he was eventually sent packing, reportedly in the middle of the night in Phokeng by then Safa chief executive Robin Petersen and vice president Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana, the coach would still be entangled in a bitter court battle with the association to be compensated - an initial R20-million payout of which a little under half is said to have been paid as settlement.
Mosimane took a break to refresh. And this was far from retreating to deal with the embarrassment of being fired two years before his contract with the national team expired, but to rather do some introspection and figure out his next move.
It’s never been on the record, but I would find it hard to believe that Mosimane did not have any job offers before he finally accepted Mamelodi Sundowns boss Patrice Motsepe’s proposition to take over from Dutchman Johan Neeskens in December 2012 - six months after leaving the national team.
The rest, as they say, is history.
It is history worth pointing out yet again following the Brazilians’ record eighth Premier League title, with Mosimane now having managed to guide them to three of those. Add the CAF Champions League, Super Cup, Telkom Knockout and Nedbank Cup to that achievement and that is haul of seven trophies in five years at what is now certainly the best team in the PSL era.
With Mosimane at the helm there seems no way of stopping Sundowns, even in the coming seasons, especially when you consider that the club has not finished below second place in the four full campaigns that he has been in charge. The Brazilians either win the championship or push their rivals right down to the wire.
Of course Orlando Pirates, who finished as runners-up this season, will look to improve in the upcoming term having raised expectations and returning to the Champions League for the first time since reaching the final and losing to Al Ahly in 2013.
Kaizer Chiefs are currently in the hunt for a new coach to replace Steve Komphela, who could not win a trophy in three years at Amakhosi. SuperSport United are in the same boat, still dangerously flirting with relegation despite an ideal start by winning the MTN8 under Eric Tinkler, before the coach was sacked for an extremely poor run of results.
Bidvest Wits, who surrendered their league title to Sundowns rather sheepishly and might not even break into the top eight bracket, will undoubtedly be desperate to bounce back.
But Mosimane is almost unmatched and is well on his way to being the best Chloorkop has ever had, and his PSL counterparts are playing catch-up.