Pitso Mosimane is on the brink of history with Al Ahly
JOHANNESBURG - Revered at home in South Africa and around the continent after a successful seven-and-a-half year stint with Mamelodi Sundowns, Pitso Mosimane is on the cusp of doing what he does best – rewriting the history books.
Mosimane’s success wasn’t easy to come by, though, having not been tipped by many for Sundowns’ head coaching role in 2012 after being merely known for his promising career at SuperSport United and an unsuccessful spell at Bafana Bafana.
But almost eight years later, Mosimane had turned his detractors and doubters into admirers after winning 11 titles, including five league titles and the coveted CAF Champions League and Super Cup.
As Mosimane and Sundowns rose on the continent and world, their rivals started to take note of them. So when Al Ahly parted ways with coach Rene Weiler midway through the season, despite being on the brink of a treble, Mosimane was the club’s first target.
And that’s why it’s almost taboo to think that Mosimane took over the reins at the African Club of the Century out of courtesy, while instead, it was out of his sheer brilliance as a tactician that club president Mahmoud El Khatib pursued him to replace Weiler.
In his reign that has lasted for less than two months at Al Ahly, Mosimane has already won the Egyptian Premiership crown, while he’s also guided his troops to the semi-finals of the Egyptian Super Cup.
But undoubtedly he’ll have to earn his stripes at the club tonight when Al Ahly cross paths with nemesis Zamalek SC in the final of Africa’s premier club knockout competition at the Cairo International Stadium, hoping to get their hands on their record ninth continental championship.
It’s a first for the club to be coached by a black coach from outside Egypt.
And that’s why Mosimane has his job cut out for him in Egypt’s capital, Cairo, this evening.
But if there’s anyone who can do the job, it’s him.
After all, that he’s admired and respected around the continent is not because of his charm; instead, it’s because he’s one of the forces to be reckoned with and among the best to do this job – particularly against the north Africans, who’ve dominated the continent for generations.
After thumping Zamalek 3-1 on aggregate to win the Champions League with Sundowns in 2016, Mosimane proved that his future club were also vulnerable, trouncing Al Ahly 5-1 to reach the semi-finals of the competition last season.
But Mosimane’s former men always stumbled against another north African side, Wydad Casablanca, who booted them out of the competition on numerous occasions in the past.
But the 56-year-old coach is on course to level the playing field since he joined Al Ahly.
The Red Devils defeated Wydad 5-1 on aggregate in the semi-finals. But for Mosimane to go down as one of few to ever do it repeatedly on the continent, that should come with a gold medal against Zamalek at the end of the game in Cairo on the stroke of midnight.
The South African Football Association were one of the first federations to convey their messages of luck to “Jingles”, chief executive Tebogo Motlanthe saying that Mosimane’s triumph would not only mean a lot to him but to South Africans at large.
“You are a true ambassador of the country and we are proud of you. Go and make us proud because we all love and admire your honesty and professionalism. You are a true champion,” Motlanthe said in a statement released by the association.