Pitso Mosimane lays the bait, but will Kaizer Chiefs bite?
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JOHANNESBURG - THE compliments came thick and fast as Pitso Mosimane spoke of Kaizer Chiefs ahead of his clash with Amakhosi in the CAF Champions League final in Casablanca next weekend.
But they were, typically, not bereft of the subtle Jingles jibe that many often fail to pick up on.
Now in charge of Al Ahly of Egypt, Jingles is on the verge of becoming the joint second most successful coach in continental football should he lead the Red Devils to their tenth triumph in Africa’s premier club knockout competition.
A four-time winner on the continent – two Champions League and two CAF Super Cup titles – he will join Tunisian Faouzi Benzarti on five titles with victory next Saturday. Portuguese Jose Manuel is the leader with eight.
In a virtual press conference with the South African Football Journalists’ Association (Safja) earlier this week, Mosimane threw complimentary adjectives towards opponents he loves to beat that you’d have sworn he was fishing for a job at Naturena.
He said their midfield is rigid, called Bernard Parker hard-working, spoke of the Chiefs set piece as being dangerous and threw in ‘tenacity’ and ‘survivors’ to describe Amakhosi. “You’ve got to respect them. They are survivors, they can live in the desert,” he said.
It was all genuine as Mosimane tried to explain what his squad will be up against as they attempt to add their names alongside those of the likes of Mohamed Aboutreika, Waell Gomaa and Ahmad Hassan as Al Ahly legends.
“They don’t care if they have the ball or not. They can suffer in a match, no problem. They suffered against Simba (of Tanzania), they survived. They suffered in Morocco (against Wydad Casablanca), they survived. They got four against Wydad when they played in a neutral venue in the group stages but they survived. They got three at Simba and survived.
“There’s tenacity there, you’ve got to give respect. They are survivors. They can live in the desert. Those guys are really like soldiers. They get out of trouble like you never thought they’d get out.”
Amakhosi would, however, do well to take the compliments with a pinch of salt. After all this is Pitso Mosimane, the man who has always praised his opponents only to punish them for exactly the strength he’d complimented them on.
He has mastered the art of making his opposition believe their own hype by highlighting their strength prior to matches, all the while knowing he has just the plan against that particular power.
Before the praises he lauded on Chiefs, Mosimane had ‘mocked’ the coaching situation at Amakhosi with that subtlety of his that irked many during his time in the local league.
“I believe any coach who comes to any match thinks he’s got an equal chance of winning,” he responded to a question about why he thinks Ahly will win.
And then he took a dig at the opposition: “And, I think Arthur Zwane feels the same way, or should I say Stuart Baxter. I am not sure. You know in South Africa there’s too many … you just don’t know who’s who sometimes with the coaches there. Is it Arthur Zwane or Stuart? Because I saw some of you saying ‘why don’t you give credit to Gavin Hunt who took the team to the semi-final?'”
It was typical Mosimane, always eager to add spice to a clash. He clearly missed the pre-match banter he used to enjoy before clashes with Amakhosi while he was still at Mamelodi Sundowns.
As it was, ahead of that conference, Mosimane had expressed his feelings about it. “I can see none of the two teams have declared war yet. I wonder why? Should I jump first?” he tweeted.
But with no fighting talk coming from Naturena and him being in far away Egypt, Mosimane has been denied an opportunity to get under his opponents’ skins before they trot into the King Mohamed V Stadium in Casablanca on Saturday. His attempt to do so via the Safja virtual interview fell pretty flat as most failed to pick up on his subtle jibes.