His name is Pitso John Hamilton Mosimane. He is a Bafana Bafana legend and former coach. He has done and seen it all in football, both as a player and a manager. Affectionately known as Jingles. We need to celebrate the 51-year-old mentor while he’s in the prime of his coaching career as he has proven he is a real game-changer!
Last week Jingles secured his second league title since taking over the reins at the star-studded Mamelodi Sundowns, going into the history books as the first black coach to do so in the club’s PSL history. He also remains the only black coach to have won the league title in the PSL’s history. This local legend has successfully steadied Downs’ ship, which looked destined to sink to the lowest levels of professional football despite all the resources at their disposal. Mosimane succeeded a number of big-name coaches who left Chloorkop with their tails between their legs, as, for various reasons, their reputations were never matched by the results or the massive demands at the club.
His appointment opened doors for a number of local coaches, especially black coaches, who were, for a long time, deemed incapable of leading our big teams. They were mostly regarded as suitable assistants, just so that the club managements had ‘eyes and ears’ in the technical team. Mosimane has changed that and he deserves full credit for his continued positive contribution to our local football. Today you see coaches like Dan Malesela leading a PSL club and doing exceptionally well where some ‘big-name’ foreign coaches have failed. This is because Mosimane has paved the way and opened our club owners’ eyes and successfully changed their mind-sets. It is partly thanks to Mosimane’s good run and successful stint at Sundowns that we saw more local coaches in charge of our PSL teams than their foreign counter-parts at the beginning of the season. And most of these coaches have not disappointed.
Mosimane has also changed things around at Sundowns, where he only signed two players at the beginning of the season. The club has been buying smartly since Patrice Motsepe roped Mosimane in. Gone are the days of agents flocking to Chloorkop to put pen to paper for their players, most of whom were obviously never going to play, only for them to turn around and blame the club for a lack of game-time. Leonardo Castro, Bangaly Soumahoro and Abdul Razak were the only new signings at Downs this season, which means no one can point a finger and say Pitso ‘bought’ the league title because of the stars he signed. They simply worked the hardest and therefore deserve being crowned champions!
Not only did they work the hardest, they also played some of the best football in the league and, for the first time in a long time, looked the part as Bafana ba Style! It is clear Pitso has managed to get the best out of his troops. Look at Bongani Zungu, who joined as a promising youngster from University of Pretoria. He made an immediate impact at the club thanks to Mosimane’s quality coaching and mentorship. Zungu’s move was met with mixed reactions, as many believed he was doomed to be another career suicide statistic, but he’s become an even better player than he was before and overseas move comes as no surprise.
The same thing happened with Keagan Dolly, who was almost a forgotten man towards the end of his Ajax Cape Town stint. He’s become a completely different player and has proven to be one of the most effective attackers in the PSL. Dolly is head and shoulders above his peers and if it wasn’t for the national U23’s Brazil Olympic Games preparations, he would surely have been in Coach Shakes Mashaba’s Bafana long ago!
Hlompho Kekana, too, has improved tremendously. Previously his role was as a hard-tackling defensive midfielder whose job it was to destroy anything coming Downs’ way. Now he is a more creative holding midfielder. His game has become more about regaining possession and distributing it. He keeps the ball, moving with short and sometimes long passes, and frankly has become a marvel to watch. A number of other Downs’ players have also really improved since working with Mosimane
When was the last time anyone heard of big egos, infighting, cliques or negative influences at Chloorkop, something which had become synonymous with Sundowns before Mosimane’s arrival? The team spirit is at an all-time high and even fringe players are kept happy, which is never an easy thing to do. When Katlego Mashego, one of the best strikers in the country, runs to celebrate a goal scored by Leonardo Castro, the player who has effectively pushed him further down the pecking order, then you get the sense of the brotherhood that prevails in the dressing room.
The Brazilians’ camp has not been this stable since their golden era, when the likes of Roger Feutmba, Charles Motlohi, Daniel Mudau, Michael Manzini, Raphael Chukwu, Ernest Mtawali, Zane Moosa, Joel ‘Fire’ Masilela and many other legends donned the Brazilians’ jersey with such pride and put the club and the country’s football on the map.
Not to forget Mosimane’s open-minded approach to coaching. How many PSL assistant coaches can claim to be as involved in their teams as Manqoba Mngqithi and Rulani Mokwena? Most PSL coaches stand in isolation away from their technical team, with their assistants ‘stealing’ a moment of shine when they join their head coach to remonstrate with the match officials. With Mosimane, things are completely different as he sits in-between his two assistant and is often seen discussing tactics and changes. Both assistants are also often seen issuing instructions to the players, which goes to show that their input is highly valued and that they are not restricted to only carrying cones at training.
Imagine Manqoba, Mokoena and Mosimane as PSL head coaches one day? We need to celebrate Mosimane and similar living legends while they are still around, instead of singing their praises when they are no longer in the game.
Keeping with the spirit of celebrating our legends, I hope you enjoyed our feature in last week’s edition where we celebrated legendary Pule ‘Ace’ Ntsoelengoe. We continue to re-run his hilarious stories from past editions of this publication on our website. Keep an eye on our website for our weekly stories every Wednesday. Easy like Sunday morning…