Supercoach Pitso Mosimane is back in SA — and he’s in no hurry to find his next gig
South African soccer coach Pitso Mosimane is back home following an extended stint in the Middle East. Because of the reputation he has built, he can afford to sift through the teams that approach him while he looks for his next job.
Pitso Mosimane is one of the greatest South African coaches. And he is certainly right up there with the best coaches produced in Africa.
During a recent virtual press conference organised by the South African Football Journalists’ Association, Mosimane explained how travelling to different parts of the world had humbled him and opened his mind — both as a professional and an individual.
Since leaving Mamelodi Sundowns in September 2020, Mosimane has made his mark on Middle Eastern soccer, while coaching in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Mosimane says taking this massive leap of faith had opened many doors for him.
“You get to meet coaches. You get to meet [former Bayern Munich and German coach] Hansi Flick and have coffee with him. [If I stayed here] where would I find him?” Mosimane said to journalists.
“You get to meet and sit with [Bayern Munich coach] Thomas Tuchel. Where else would I get that chance? You get to have lunch or breakfast with [former Arsenal coach] Arsene Wenger. Where am I going to get that?”
“This is what you’re subjected to… You get to see [former Barcelona and Spain midfield maestro] Andrés Iniesta. You talk to him and he says, ‘How are you, coach? Your team is so good.’ Who am I to be talking to [such people] about football? It’s unbelievable. So, I can’t regret leaving.”
Mosimane told journalists that considering the success he enjoyed with Sundowns before he left for Egypt, it would have been extremely easy for him to stay at the Tshwane club.
He was probably one of the best-paid coaches on the continent. He could buy top players with the club’s fat chequebook, and he would have collected a number of trophies along the way. But he wanted more. Much more. He still does.
“It would have been easy for me to sit here. Stay in my comfort zone. Okay, we win the league at Sundowns. Okay, we can go to the final or semifinal of the Champions League … but what now? I can’t be doing that for the rest of my life,” the 59-year-old said.
“It’s not a situation similar to Alex Ferguson, who conquered the English Premier League for 20 years [with Manchester United], who went into [European competition] and won two or three trophies. That’s the ultimate. There’s nothing bigger than that. So, from my success here [in South Africa] there was more for me to do,” Mosimane said.
He can rest comfortably knowing that despite his departure from Masandawana, his legacy is well-established at that particular club. He played a pivotal part in helping to mould the juggernaut that is Sundowns today.
Good to be home
Mosimane is enjoying some downtime after his tenure with Abu Dhabi-based Al Wahda came to an abrupt end. The coach and the club severed ties at the beginning of November after Mosimane joined in mid-June.
During his four months at the helm at Al Wahda, Mosimane was in charge of 10 matches, winning six and losing four.
In South Africa, apart from coaching Sundowns and SuperSport United, he also coached the senior men’s national soccer team, Bafana Bafana. In 2020 he coached Al Ahly in Egypt, before joining the Saudi Arabian outfit Al-Ahli Saudi. Then he made that shortlived move to the UAE.
As he sits at home, the coach says this is the perfect opportunity to spend rare and relatively uninterrupted time with his family.
“I’m not boasting. [But] we can get employed next week if we want. It’s not all about that.” Mosimane said that he would only entertain offers from the beginning of 2024.
As to which team he will next bless with his expertise and hunger for success, Mosimane says whichever one will help him add more chapters to his ever-expanding legacy.
He wants a team that will trust him completely to bring the required results, even if it requires some patience.
“People will always say their opinions. Supporters love their clubs. They will say what they want. They will complain and criticise. It’s normal. It’s part of the game,” Mosimane told journalists.
“But you can’t worry about external noise. It will always be there. Internal noise, which is the players, the management, the board [is the most important].
“So those are the things we have to discuss [with the next team]. Because we’re going to draw and lose. Maybe lose two times and draw. So, what happens in that space? Are we no longer good? So those are boxes that need to be ticked… It’s about what you want [as a club].
“This thing is complex. You have to give it time. You can never be successful overnight.”
Mosimane hinted he’d love to coach the national team, though it would have to be one with a genuine chance of winning the Africa Cup of Nations and qualifying for the Fifa World Cup. DM