When Ephraim Jomo Sono unearthed a young and gifted 18-year-old Pitso Mosimane back in the mid-1980s, little did he know that one day his product would become a successful coach – locally and in the continent.
Today, the Kagiso-born but Soweto-raised lad has won the hearts and minds of the soccer-mad Northern hemisphere fans and soccer experts alike as he tries to regain the fortunes of African giants Al Ahly, whom he has just led to their ninth African Champions League championship when they beat local rivals Zamalek 2-1 on Friday, 27th November at the Cairo International stadium.
Mosimane joined the Red Devils, who are also the African Club of the Century hastily from local giants Mamelodi Sundowns after guiding the Tshwane-based team to their unprecedented 10th league title in the 2019-2020 PSL season and won three other domestic titles.
Now, some of the continent’s top soccer brains believe Mosimane is destined for greater things in soccer – probably even outside of Africa.
The Sunday Times has quoted Kalusha Byalwa, a Zambian veteran of the game and former 1988 African footballer of the year who plied his trade overseas and was even a member of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and Zambian Football President, as saying that Pitso has put the Southern African region on the map with his latest achievement.
“It is a fantastic, phenomenal achievement for Pitso. He has established a culture of winning and stands as one of the coaches to come out of Africa. Having won the Champions League with Sundowns and winning ain’t he one with probably the biggest team in Africa, confirms Mosimane’s stature as one of the best,” said Byalwa.
Byalwa, who is close to some of South Africa’s top soccer greats and the administrators, said the chairman of Al Ahly, Mahmoud El Khatib, made a good choice in appointing the South African mentor.
“Al Ahly did not make a mistake by getting him. Their chairman knows the game. I played against him. He knows a football coach when he sees one. Mosimane wants to be a top, world -class coach,” added Byalwa.
According to Sono, known for having exposed the talents of some of South Africa’s soccer greats – past and present – Mosimane was always hungry for success and didn’t want to come second best. Sono, who coached and played with Mosimane at Jomo Cosmos back then, has always maintained that contrary to what people may think about Pitso, saying that he is arrogant, what they do not know is that Mosimane loves the game.
“From a young age the Pitso has always been hungry for success. I remember one time during a Cosmos game against Chiefs where we got a penalty and, as I was getting ready to take the penalty he just come out of nowhere and took the ball and scored,” recalled Sono.
Since arriving in Egypt in October Mosimane has oversaw his team beat fellow African giants and Moroccan super team Wydad Casablanca 5-1 over two legs before finishing the business by beating fellow country team Zamalek. It was the same Zamalek that Mosimane beat while with Sundowns four years ago to win his maiden Champions League.