FEATURE: How things could have turned out very differently for former Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane

Published on: 30 November 2020

On Friday night, former Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane added to his already legendary status by guiding Al Ahly to a ninth Caf Champions League crown with a 2-1 win over Cairo rivals Zamalek.

It was their first win in the tournament since 2013 when they beat Orlando Pirates. Since then, Al Ahly have lost two finals - against Esperance Tunis and Wydad Casablanca - which meant Mosimane was under pressure to ensure the club didn't lose a third successive final.

In a thrilling match, the Red Devils pulled through thanks to an 86th minute winner from Mohamed Kafsha; such are the fine lines between glory and despair.

It was Mosimane's second triumph in the competition after taking Sundowns to the title in 2016. He also became only the third coach to win it with two different clubs, and only the Portugal-born Manuel Jose has more titles, four, which were all won with Al Ahly.

With five league championships and seven major cup wins, including the 2017 Caf Super Cup, also to his name, Mosimane is already a living legend and will surely go down as one of Africa's greatest in the history books.

But it could all have turned out very differently; such are the narrow margins at the top.

That's if you cast your mind back to the closing weeks of the 2012/13 season, just a few months after Mosimane had taken charge as Sundowns head coach on December 2, 2012.

He had arrived after Dutchman Johann Neeskens, who had guided Downs to fourth the previous season.

Results did not go well for Mosimane, who had last worked as Bafana Bafana head coach - with limited success - and his stint in charge of the national side will unfortunately always be remembered for celebrating a draw against Sierra Leone in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, when a victory was actually required.

Before that, he had enjoyed reasonable success with SuperSport United but had not done anything mind-blowing. When he arrived at Chloorkop, his two major achievements had come more than seven years earlier - the SAA Supa 8 in 2004 and the Nedbank Cup in 2005.

So its safe to say, that in April 2013, with the Brazilians on a miserable run of form, his star was not shining brightly.

The supporters were crying for his blood and it got so bad that he had to be escorted out of Pilditch Stadium by the police after a league defeat to Bloemfontein Celtic.

This proved to be Mosimane's pivotal moment. Rather like former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who was said to be inches away from losing his job after a trophy-less first few years at Old Trafford.

Ferguson's bosses decided he was worth keeping faith in. And it was the same with Sundowns owner Patrice Motsepe.

His words seven years ago have proven prophetic.

“We need to review, reassess. It happens to good teams and great teams in the world," Motsepe was quoted saying by IOL, while discussing crisis talks he had undergone with Mosimane.

“You go through periods of difficulty. I remain confident that Sundowns will do well in the coming years."

Sundowns only managed to finish a lowly 10th that season, unthinkable for a club of their history, ambition, and riches.

Yet faith was still maintained in Mosimane.

And after winning the league title the very next season, he has not not looked back, which is an understatement if there ever was one.

Perhaps one day he’ll again take up the Bafana job and complete some unfinished business.

Source: goal.com