Not many would’ve bet on seeing Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane driving out of the club’s Chloorkop-based headquarters for the last time as the man in charge of the team, on Wednesday morning when the news broke that the former Bafana Bafana mentor had tendered his resignation to the club’s president, Patrice Motsepe.
It was not only because of his impressive record of 11 trophies in less than eight years, including five league titles, at the club that this piece of news would have sounded like a fabricated April Fools’ day prank. It was simply because Mamelodi Sundowns was Pitso Mosimane and Mosimane was Sundowns. You just couldn’t imagine one without the other, especially after a protracted contract negotiations marathon that saw him commit to the club for a further four seasons, just four months ago. Now it is history that the news was true and that the man, affectionately known as Jingles, is no longer the head coach of Sundowns. That he’s no longer a member of the club’s WhatsApp group is “unbelievable, to be honest with you!” A huge loss for our game but, at the same time, a massive win for South African football, if “you know what I’m trying to say.”
PSL post-match interviews will never be the same and, while I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who will finally get a ‘breather’ from Jingles’ absence, his move is a huge loss to our league. He has raffled a lot of feathers, mostly as part of his mind-games, and former Kaizer Chiefs coach, Ernst Middendorp, knows too well how the former Bafana Bafana mentor can get under someone’s skin. If he was still in charge of the Naturena-based club, Middendorp would definitely throw a party to celebrate Mosimane’s departure because no one has been a thorn in the German’s flesh like Jingles has done. He wasted no opportunity and always knew what to say and did he do a good job! Who can forget his unprovoked utterances when he pretty much told everyone who cared to listen that Chiefs had already won the league title, when there was still a lot to play for? He obviously, indirectly, was sticking a knife into Middendorp and putting him under so much pressure when he was surely preaching from a completely verse behind the scenes. Such has been Jingles’ mind-games and you can’t say they didn’t work, if the reaction to every comment he made was anything to go by. He sneezes and almost everyone catches a flu! If he says Chiefs are benefitting from the referees, everyone has to react and that’s exactly what he was always looking for. That reaction was sometimes what stood between the said club and a win, which is a welcome distraction to Jingles and playing into his hands.
His move to Ahly presents long-standing assistant coach, Manqoba Mngqithi and Rhulani Mokwena with an opportunity to steer the ship. Great news is that Sundowns president, Patrice Motsepe, lived up to his promise of looking internally before exploring outside our shores for Jingles’ successor. Another great move for local football. Jingles’ move is sure going to open up doors and go far in putting our game and coaches on the map. That Jingles was allowed to rope in Kabelo Rangoaga. Musi Matlaba and Cavin Johnson as fitness trainer, performance analyst and assistant coach respectively, to The Red Devils, tells you a lot about the team’s vision and belief in the domestic treble-winning coach. We are already salivating at the CAF Champions League semi-finals between Ahly and Jingles’ nemesis in Wydad Casablanca. That should be a cracker of the game and going all the way to win the Champions League will be another feather on Jingles’ cap because he surely doesn’t see Ahly as his destination but rather a ‘refreshments’ stop’ so that he can, once again, go on to do another first – breaking into the European coaching scene – as a South African. You just can’t be prouder!
Mosimane’s move wasn’t the only news story that captivated the masses this past week, with AmaZulu FC announcing a change of ownership in what has been a really unprecedented year and football season. We’ve already had two PSL teams’ statuses exchanging hands but the difference with AmaZulu was just the way the whole transaction was handled. Definitely the most well-kept football secret this year! Secondly, the manner in which everything was handled coupled with the fact that there will be no name-change, no relocation, same kit colours and just a bit more injection on ambition. If the first press conference by the club’s new owners, Zungu Investment Company, it was refreshing to know that the club’s heritage and rich history will not go down the drain as it will be the case with some teams. That everything will remain intact is a huge sigh of relief not just for Usuthu’s passionate supporters but South African football as well. Our history is what makes us who we are, teams like AmaZulu have played a significant role in our football and should therefore not disappear on the surface of the earth. Every possible effort should be made to preserve these teams’ cultures and keep them alive.
There’s also a marvelous growing trend of young, energetic and innovative young owners taking up space in our football. Tim Sukazi, Mosala Mulaudzi and now Sandile Zungu bring will surely bring fresh air and help to take our football to the next level. It is also good to see that our young black businessmen venturing into football and will go along way in proving that nothing is impossible.