‘Conflicted’ Pitso Mosimane won’t give CAF Champions League medal away
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JOHANNESBURG - It makes sense that Pitso Mosimane should be a little conflicted as he anticipates the Champions League final on July 17.
How can he not be when he is on a mission to break the hearts of his fellow countrymen? As coach of African superpower Al Ahly, Mosimane is tasked with delivering the “aleushria/El Ashra” – a 10th title – for the Egyptian giants. And winning titles is after all what ‘Jingles’ does.
But the fact that he has to do it against a team from South Africa complicates things a wee bit.
“There’s a little bit of a conflict,” Mosimane said yesterday as he looked ahead to the clash with Kaizer Chiefs in an interview with members of the SA Football Journalists Association (SAFJA).
“I am a South African playing against my home team, a team I supported when I grew up.”
But he’s a thorough professional, this record Premiership winning coach, and his allegiance is to his employers notwithstanding.
“At this time, it is about me, my family and my team. They come first.”
He has been in the game long enough to have faced similar situations and there’s no way he will allow sentimental attachments to cloud his judgement at the Mohammed V Stadium in Casablanca, Morocco.
“I think it was the same thing when I coached (Mamelodi) Sundowns and we played against SuperSport United who gave me a crack to be a coach,” he said of his experience at handling such matters.
As it is, it won’t be the first time he faces a South African team with Al Ahly, Mosimane having gotten the better of his former team Sundowns in the round of 16.
For driven men such as Mosimane, the desire for success always surpasses any emotional attachments. And with the opportunity to deliver a 10th Champions League title a mere 90 minutes away, he is not about to get all sentimental. But having played against Chiefs as a player and then as a coach for many years surely the childhood attachment has eroded somewhat.
“It’s either I want to give the (winners’) medal to (Chiefs coach Stuart) Baxter or I want to keep it, and I think you all know the answer to that,” Mosimane chuckled.
As a South African he would love to see the continental title coming home, but not at the expense of a team that is providing him with his and his family’s livelihood.
“It would be nice to have a team from South Africa get the star (teams that win the continental Champions League get to put a star above their crest as proof of their success). It would be a boost for our country if the big three all have a star.”
Chiefs would join Orlando Pirates and Sundowns as the third SA team to be crowned African champions if they win next weekend.
But, Mosimane says, the star has to be earned.
“We (Al Ahly) are not a welfare or charitable organisation handing out stars. Everybody must earn it. Al Ahly want to win their own la decima, they call it the el ashra here, and Kaizer Chiefs want to get their own star.”