Pitso Mosimane says showing loyalty to his experienced players was the key to Mamelodi Sundowns winning the league title. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Pitso Mosimane’s nonchalant reaction to Mamelodi Sundowns’ eighth championship title told the story of a man accustomed to success.

The Absa Premiership triumph was Mosimane’s third in five seasons and this week, the many they fondly call ‘Jingles’ took time to look back on the season, share his secrets of success and look ahead to what promises to be a further successful career in charge of the Brazilians.

What did it mean for you to win yet another championship?

You need to win the league. When you’re coaching (Orlando) Pirates, (Kaizer) Chiefs and Sundowns you must win the league. Do you have excuses for not winning the league? Those four clubs, let’s include Wits, do we really have an excuse?

Because you’ve got players, you’ve got the quality, you have the resources – we’re expected to win the league. So you need to fight for the league.

Man United fight for the league, Chelsea fight for the league, Man City fighting to win the league, Liverpool, Spurs. 

Those teams have the capacity to win the league. So, here we have to fight for the league. We’re expected to. So I have to win the league. But above all, it is important for me to be in the Champions League.

Every year we need to play in the Champions League. And if you’re a team that finishes first and second for four or five years in a row, I think you’re a very good team. 

You don’t lose the league with 10 points. We are a good team and we have you have to show it over five years. Win the league.

Anybody can come number one or two at some time, Platinum Stars were second, but can they do it all the time? Even in the EPL, it's not easy, hey. Chelsea won and then what happened? 

It’s always Bayern (Munich), Real Madrid or Barca (who can maintain that level of success). And I need to play in that space. 

I have no excuse because we are able to recruit players, because we can pay the salaries of the top five clubs. So we need to fight and compete at all those levels.

What would you say was the turning point for Sundowns in the season?

Loyalty. I signed players in December, but no one has really played, hey? Maybe Gaston Sirino. But George (Lebese), Aubrey (Ngoma), Jeremy (Brockie) have all found it difficult. 

When they came in, we were top of the log, so I stayed loyal to guys like Themba Zwane, Sibusiso Vilakazi, Khama (Billiat), (Tiyani) Mabunda, (Hlompho) Kekana, (Tebogo) Langerman and Thapelo (Morena). These are the guys who have been helping us. 

It was probably the turning point that really helped us to win the league because I never said ‘Oh, the new ones are here, you old ones move over’. 

They (the new players) all started from the bench, and maybe Sirino is the only one who demanded and showed that he needed to be in the starting line-up.

Gaston Sirino has been one of the few new signings who has impressed Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

The rest of the guys took time to catch up to the tempo and intensity we are playing at. Here (at Sundowns) we play every three games, they were not used to it, they struggled.

Talk to us about the role of your big technical team?

I have the scouts and performance analysts supporting me yes. This thing is now like American football, where you have a huge technical team. 

Before at SuperSport United, I only had Thomas Madigage. Just two people, and we could do whatever we wanted. 

Now, how many do I have? Football has really evolved hey. It has changed. 

We all have the structure, but it is how effective that structure is which is important. But you must never, ever make the mistake of dropping the basics.

It doesn’t matter how many analysts you have, the bottom line is that the coach must watch the game. Because you are the one who will say ‘I have seen this club three times and this is their weakness and this is their strength’. 

So, I still watch a minimum of the last three matches my opponents have played. 

Once I start moving away from that, I will be taking short cuts and that will come back to bite me. That’s what I believe has helped me as a coach, putting in the hours, sitting there and not moving.

I still believe in watching my games, and then I can listen to my performance analysts.

And every time I listen to them, there is always a box they don’t tick, and that can be a game-changer hey. So hence, I stay loyal to the basics.

What drives you now that you have won the league three times and have conquered the continent?

I look at Pep (Guardiola) and them, those guys. Alex Ferguson, what he has done for 22 years. Look, who am I to be saying ‘you’ve won everything’? The guy has done it for 22 years, the legacy he has left, 46 titles. 

Mourinho 26 (titles) I think, Pep 23 (titles). Those guys have won a lot. 

Alex Ferguson set the mark for modern managers due to his success at Manchester United. Photo: John Sibley/Action Images via Reuters

And for me to say there’s nothing, I think that would be a bit arrogant hey. You need to try and win as much as you can and leave a long-lasting legacy, and say you have made a contribution, you’ve made a change to Mamelodi Sundowns.

Leave a team on a high to say the other guy must really, really go high. 

You don’t want a guy to come and say ‘Look what I found, the Walter Rautmann story, the team is not fit, with three games to go hey’. You don’t need that. 

You want to also try and build millionaires. We come from different backgrounds. When players come to Sundowns, he gets a contract of a million rand. 

How you spend it is up to you. We need to change their lives, with their families and their responsibilities to take kids to school.

When I recruit them, I show them the other guys like Bongani Zungu and Keagan Dolly who came here as youngsters, but are now big stars. 

They used us as a stepping stone to go higher up.


Saturday Star