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Mosimane continues to be a trailblazer after landing Club World Cup bronze

Pitso Mosimane led the giants of African football to a bronze medal at the Fifa Club World Cup this week. (Photo: EPA / Khaled Elfiqi)

South African coach and serial winner Pitso Mosimane added another feather to his hat as he led Al Ahly to their joint best performance at the Club World Cup in Qatar.

Pitso Mosimane planted the seed of his destiny at SuperSport United. He then moved to Mamelodi Sundowns where, despite the sky being the limit, he soared to stratospheric heights, higher than Jack’s beanstalk. At Al Ahly he is comfortably perched among the constellations.

Mosimane led the giants of African football to a bronze medal at the Fifa Club World Cup this week. Having been vanquished by eventual champions Bayern Munich in the semifinals, the Red Devils beat Brazilian side Palmeiras 5-4 on penalties to clinch third spot.

The result was the Egyptian champions’ joint best finish at the global club competition, matching the feat in 2006 with their golden generation of players, including Mohamed Aboutrika, Wael Gomaa and Angolan forward Flavio.

It was yet another accolade to add to a long list of achievements since his senior coaching career began in 2001. They include leading Sundowns to Caf Champions League glory and securing a historic treble with the Tshwane giants in his final season at the helm. With Al Ahly’s victory he became the first South African, player or coach, to win a Club World Cup medal.

However, in typical perfectionist Pitso style, the Kagiso-born coach is not entirely happy with a third-place finish.

“Not the medal we wished to get, but a realistic one. We should be humble and appreciate getting a medal for Africa. We shall be back next year and fight for an upgrade,” said Mosimane after the victory over Palmeiras.

The statement demonstrates Mosimane’s hunger and drive. With it the 56-year-old is already throwing down the gauntlet for any challengers to the Red Devils’ status as African Champions, and plotting a return to the World Cup. 

The nine-time African champions have been drawn in group A for the 2020/21 season of the Caf Champions League competition. They are alongside Congolese side AS Vita Club, Simba SC of Kenya and Sudan’s Al-Merrikh, and will be favourites to finish at the summit of the group.

Mosimane had detractors who were quick to point out that when he took over as coach, his predecessor René Weiler had done all the hard yards for him, including winning the Egyptian Premier League.

However, the South African still had to oversee the Champions semifinal victory over Wydad Casablanca over two legs, as well as the final over bitter rivals Zamalek, thereby booking Al Ahly and his place on the world stage.

Losing to the eventual champions of the competition and a European powerhouse that has only lost five games in manager Hansi Flick’s 68 games in charge, is nothing to be ashamed of. However, due to Mosimane’s penchant for the sublime, he will still be hungry to improve even further.

And having tasted the world stage, he will want to return again and again. And the only way he can do that is if he creates a similar dynasty to the one Flick has created at Munich.

Mosimane is off to a good start in that regard. Since he took over from Weiler in October 2020, the 2-0 loss to Bayern in Qatar was the first time he has tasted defeat – after overseeing his first 22 games without a single loss.

While for this season he will have to be content with a bronze medal, it goes without saying that he will do everything in his power to ensure his side make a return to the competition next season. Then he will be hoping to not go one better, but two better and win the competition.

“We achieved the goal that we all wanted. I do not want to look arrogant, but we played very well in the competition. I am looking forward to better achievements with Al Ahly in the Fifa Club World Cup in the future,” said Mosimane after the bronze medal game.

“We showed a great performance today against Palmeiras and also against FC Bayern Munich in the previous game. I hope to win the Caf Champions League title this season and come back to play in the next edition of the Fifa Club World Cup.”

For now, they will focus on securing the Caf Super Cup when they take on Moroccan side RS Berkane on Wednesday, 17 February. If they emerge victorious it will be Mosimane’s second trophy, after he led Sundowns to victory over TP Mazembe in 2017. DM

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