Africa / 6 April 2019, 12:00pm / own correspondent
The usually brash and confrontational Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane has been replaced by a more humble figure who watches his words with the undisputed kings of Africa in town.
“Jingles” adopted this stance because he doesn’t want to add petrol to the fiery Al Ahly, who have won the CAF Champions League a record eight times. The two sides clash today at Lucas Moripe Stadium in a quarter-final first leg in the Champions League (3pm kick off).
Earlier this week, Orlando Pirates coach Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic described the Egyptians’ defence as slow and went on to say that Sundowns would find joy against them this afternoon due to their pace.
But the Sundowns coach didn’t want to be drawn into that analysis.
“I am not sure about that statement,” Mosimane said.
“You’ve got to be very careful, and don’t upset people. So we’ve got to be very careful. This thing (the Champions League), when you get experience in it you know how to get it right and you handle it right.
“You remember when I was upset with Wydad (Casablanca) here, them bullying the referee? You saw what happened in Morocco. I mean really, it’s unbelievable. They went to write my name and put it there.
“So you’ve got to be very careful. I don’t want to create any problems again. I don’t want to see my name on the stands there.”
Mosimane got under the skin of 2017 African champions Wydad during their visit to the country in the group stage of this year’s Champions League.
Mosimane and his Brazilians gave the Moroccans a taste of their own medicine, from ball boys who took their time returning the ball, to Sundowns playing with an in-your face attitude.
This was a foreign concept to Wydad as they are the ones who normally do the bullying. Wydad fans were so incensed that they dedicated a large banner to Mosimane saying: “Great country when teaching you, corrupt when beating you.”
This was in reference to Mosimane doing his CAF Pro License coaching course in Morocco and his utterance that north African teams normally bully referees with their confrontational attitude.
“We respect them, they are a good team. A big team,” Mosimane said, not wanting to ruffle Al Ahly’s feathers as they have to visit Suez next week for the return leg.
But just because Mosimane has adopted a foreign humble persona doesn’t mean that the real Jingles isn’t there.
His team will give as good as they’ll get against the Egyptians, especially with an early kick-off that will see Al Ahly tire in the second half under the Pretoria heat and at altitude.
“They are a team that plays well, a lot of good movements,” Mosimane said.
“They look after the ball. They are a perfect team, in terms of play. But even a perfect team like Manchester City loses some games.
“We’re motivated by the game they lost to Simba, the game they lost to AS Vita which means it’s possible. As they say, it always looks impossible until someone does it.
“Sundowns is a good team, if they play like they always do at home in the Champions League, we can win any match.”
Sundowns are searching for their first win against Al Ahly, who beat them in the final of the 2001 Champions League.
In their previous four meetings, Al Ahly have won two matches while the other two ended in draws.
When Mosimane was made aware of this statistic, the real Jingles came to the fore.
“Maybe we should change the fortunes. There’s always a first time.”