'You Don’t Have To Love Pitso'
Love or hate him, you just can’t ignore Mamelodi Sundowns head coach, Pitso Mosimane. The man is on a mission and continues to impress. When he talks, everyone listens. He ruffles feathers and unapologetically says it as he sees it.
Whether he is always right or not is a separate story altogether.
You don’t have to agree with everything he says but you’ve got to give it to the man that he knows just how to get people talking. Jingles is to South African football what Julius Malema is to politics. He gives opposition and the ilk sleepless nights because, once he opens his mouth, everyone is on tenterhooks. When Pitso talks, you know he’s going to say something interesting but you just don’t know who it is directed to. Again, if he’s always right is a story for another day. He is always a thorn in the flesh and, if they could, some would wish him away but, interestingly, it is such thoughts that seem to be his gasoline. He continues to set himself apart from his peers when it comes to success, mind games, tactical acumen and, obviously, expressing himself without any fear. His pre- and post-match interviews give life and bring about quotable quotes, which has, mostly, stirred things up especially on social media. A lot of football supporters don’t agree with Jingles’ assertions and continuously take away from his successful story by pointing out the obvious fact about the facilities, quality and the chequebook at his disposal. I was pleasantly happy to hear him break his silence on this issue for the first time in a very long time, echoing my exact sentiments whenever the ‘luxuries’ were brought up in discussions about his good job at Sundowns. The same ‘luxuries’ that were enjoyed by his predecessors who couldn’t even achieve half of what he has achieved at the club.
One thing you can’t take away from the former Bafana Bafana mentor is his hard work, dedication, commitment and passion for his craft. He continues to push the envelope and raise the bar. He’s seemingly on a ‘catch us if you can’ mission with his Chloorkop-based team as he always goes for the “Big Fish”.
Mosimane has just won his third league title at Sundowns in five years, and finished as runner-up twice behind Kaizer Chiefs in 2014/15 and Bidvest Wits last season. That’s a remarkable record by any means, especially considering that the same Sundowns had spent almost a decade without a single trophy before his tenure. To consistently keep your team in the top two on the log for five years is no child’s play. It takes a lot of planning, improving and putting in the hours. The quality of any technical team will always be put to the test when it comes to the league race and the fact that Sundowns have hardly had any major muscle injuries is also testament to the strong technical team assembled at Sundowns. Their medical team has done tremendously well, especially when you look at the number of games they’ve been involved in this season.
He will have ascended the podium eight times to collect a gold medal in his five years at the Chloorkop-based club. This is a great story by any stretch of imagination and should never be watered down by anyone or anything for that matter. You don’t have to love Pitso but the least you can do is respect the guy’s hustle! Instead of celebrating the massive achievement, his success story has been muddied by mixed reactions, which tend to undermine the hard work, passion and dedication that the Sundowns mentor has given to South African football. Like I once said in this column, Mosimane has been a catalyst in ensuring that young and local coaches get the respect they so much deserve from the club bosses, supporters, players and everyone associated with the game. Now, more than ever, our teams, especially big teams, don’t have to think twice about entrusting the local heroes with the responsibility of leading their teams and the aspiring coaches no longer have to look overseas to see someone they can admire and look up to. Mosimane has done all of that not because he had everything handed to him on a silver platter. He earned everything and continues to sharpen his coaching skills and pushing the boundaries, when most would be ‘taking it easy’ after such an impressive run of form.
It is that attitude that has rubbed off on his players and everyone around him. When you look at the way Mosimane has improved his players, the evidence of the man’s hard work and attention to detail is there for everyone to see. It has come as no surprise that, because he surrounded himself with top quality professionals and not just ‘yes-men’ in his technical team, there was no communication between him and assistant coach Manqoba Mngqithi, who manned the bench in Mosimane’s absence due to suspension and also academic reasons. That is because of the great relationship, understanding, trust and professionalism that exists in his technical team that they are always on the same page, while some assistant coaches are more like ‘extras’. Thanks to Mosimane, you now have an increased number of influential and meaningful assistant coaches in our league.
Thanks to people like Mosimane, young coaches like Fadlu Davids have been given a chance to take charge of a PSL team like Maritzburg United, taking over from big-name coaches, and he’s had a great story to tell so far. The same can be said about Cape Town City’s Benni McCarthy who, just like Fadlu, had no previous head coaching gig yet was trusted enough with the responsibility of leading the Mother City-based club. This augurs well for South African football and whether you agree with it or not, directly or indirectly, Pitso’s success at Sundowns has influenced some, if not most, of these decisions.
Before I forget, there’s a small matter I need to remind you, our readers, about. Our office has been going on and on about the potential date we all have with Soccer Laduma’s sub-editor, Lunga Adam, who went out on a limb and pronounced, on this platform, that he would walk down the Sea Point promenade naked should Cape Town Stadium not be filled to capacity for the Nedbank Cup final on May 19, in his editorial, headlined “Mother City gets what’s due to her” in edition 1066 of March 28, 2018. In part, Adam said, “The competition’s sponsors are guaranteed a full house, especially if one of the two big teams left in the tournament go all the way to the final. That I guarantee, and if it doesn’t happen, I am willing to walk naked along the Sea Point Promenade in broad daylight!” Lower Crossroads, Philippi and the surrounding areas, your boy needs you now more than ever, so that you can fill up the stadium or risk seeing one of you being mocked on social media for ‘walking the walk’. On your behalf, our readers, we will hold him accountable to deliver on his word, should the need arise and, for his sake, I really, really hope it won’t get to that, otherwise it won’t be a good sight at all.