From Kagiso to Cairo, let the bells jingle for Pitso in Africa
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CAPE TOWN - Pitso Mosimane. Respect that name no matter which local football club you swear allegiance to, because that name belongs to a certified serial winner who has constantly beaten all the odds stacked against him.
Despite a trophy-laden coaching career spanning two decades, and a haul of 16 major honours, the 56-yearold Kagiso, Krugersdorp-born mentor still remains a polarising figure in South African football circles.
It is in the main Jingles’ eight-year spell in charge of Mamelodi Sundowns that created this as he turned the Brazilians into a perennially dominant force, winning five Premier Soccer League titles in eight seasons, alongside four domestic cups and the 2016 CAF Champions League and the 2017 CAF Super Cup.
Since his much publicised move to Egyptian giants Al Ahly, Mosimane’s seemingly magnetic attraction to silverware has become all the more stronger with an Egyptian Cup followed by a CAF Champions League and CAF Super Cup double in the eight months that he has spent in North Africa.
The recent CAF Super Cup victory over Moroccan outfit RS Berkane
prompted Ahly president Mahmoud El Khatib to hail Mosimane as his diamond, even stating that his decision to hire Mosimane had not been universally accepted within the corridors of power at the club.
Mosimane’s stay with the Cairo based giants has not been without its critics, particularly within Egypt, as some former players of the Red Devils have been critical of his appointment and subsequently his style of play, tactics and team selections.
Notably, Reda Abdel-Aal, a former Ahly midfielder of five years, slammed Mosimane as a coach with limited abilities and who would not even manage in the Egyptian second tier.
In the case of Abdel-Aal and other former players of the African Club of the Century, it becomes clear that some of their criticism is laced with a sense of bitterness at being overlooked for the job in favour of a complete outsider who does not fit the profile of Ahly’s previous managerial appointments.
Following his appointment by Ahly late last year, I had been at pains to make it a point to impart it on those who question Pitso’s coaching ability that Mosimane had not scaled the heights that he has through sheer luck or financial support in the transfer market by the billionaire owner of his former club.
Behind all the success that he achieved at Sundowns there had been solid hard work, including numerous travels abroad to hone his coaching skills, put in to churn out the product that we see today – taking charge of the most recognisable and biggest sporting brand on the African continent.
However, for Mosimane to face the sort of vitriol he was subjected to on South African soil and not least by fans of the very Mamelodi Sundowns that he turned into a silverware collecting machine, was more distasteful than any slurs Ahly’s envious former players can subject him to.
The man is two games away from winning a third CAF Champions League title, yet you find hooligans like those who verbally abused and insulted his family ahead of last month’s CAF Champions League quarter-final second leg between Al Ahly and his former employers Sundowns.
The scenes of so-called Sundowns fans holding placards insulting Mosimane and spewing expletives about his mother, outside Atteridgeville’s Lucas Masterpieces Moripe Stadium that Saturday afternoon as Mosimane and his defending champions' bus reached the venue, were nothing but a distasteful depiction of hatred and lack of appreciation.
What are we if we cannot even respect one of our own who has been brave enough to take on arguably the biggest club coaching job on the continent?
In fact, Mamelodi Sundowns fans should worship the ground that Mosimane walks on because he is without the slightest shadow of a doubt not only their club’s greatest coach, but the finest coach produced by this country in modern times.