Al Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane stands on the verge of his second Caf Champions League trophy when the Red Devils meet bitter Cairo foes Zamalek in Saturday’s all-Egyptian final at Cairo International Stadium.
Mosimane might only have taken over from friendly acquaintance and Swiss predecessor René Weiler at the semifinal stage.
But the ex-Mamelodi Sundowns coach bolstered what appears to be a growing affirmation from his fanatical new Ahly support base negotiating those impressively with a 5-1 aggregate win against arguably the strongest club on the continent in the last half-decade‚ Wydad Casablanca.
If Mosimane steers record eight-time winners Ahly to their first Champions League success since beating Orlando Pirates in the 2013 final‚ especially at the cost of Zamalek‚ he is sure to enter new realms of popularity with his new club.
TimesLIVE takes a look at five things that might happen if Mosimane wins a second Champions League title‚ to add to the medal secured with Sundowns in 2016:
* The coach might take a step closer to coaching in Europe
It might not happen immediately or even in the near future‚ as Mosimane surely wants to sink his teeth into at least a season‚ and perhaps a few‚ at Africa’s Club of the 20th Century.
But there is no secret the ex-Ionikos‚ Jomo Cosmos and Sundowns striker harbours ambitions of a return to Europe as a coach.
And why not?
Mosimanem still only 56‚ has already broken ground becoming the first black sub-Saharan African to coach Ahly.
And up north‚ where it’s easier to be watched from Europe‚ he will add to his growing international reputation.
* Mosimane would surely be too expensive even for Sundowns
If there are thoughts of a return to Sundowns – where the coach won not just the 2016 Champions League‚ but also five Premiership titles‚ a Caf Super Cup and four domestic cups in eight years – then surely a second win in Africa’s premier continental competition would price him out of the market even for Downs owner Patrice Motsepe.
Mosimane has signalled his intention to spread his wings with his move to Ahly‚ and even if he wins this year’s Covid-19-extended Champions League‚ and then bombs out next season in Cairo‚ his sights seem fixed on bigger things than a return to the PSL.
* ‘Jingles’ would surely never coach Bafana Bafana again
Already‚ Mosimane has indicated he felt dismally treated when he was fired in his first stint as Bafana coach after a string of draws.
When Stuart Baxter left the job last year‚ asked about going back Mosimane indicated he would not want to put his career in “those people’s hands” again‚ meaning Safa‚ adding it was “sad to be fired by a taxi owner [then-Safa technical committee chairman Fanyana Sibanyoni]‚ a priest [then-CEO Robin Petersen] and a traditional chief [then-vice president Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana]”.
Nothing is certain in football‚ but a second win in a Champions League final would seemingly put Mosimane out of reach of Bafana‚ too‚ even if there was a change of leadership at Safa.
* “Mosimania” could become a word in the dictionary
Since his arrival‚ there has been a tremendous amount of hype around Mosimane in Cairo.
He was already well known because Sundowns beat Al Ahly’s arch-rivals Zamalek in the 2016 Champions League final‚ and the Brazilians also inflicted a record 5-0 thrashing on Ahly last year.
Mosimane has steered Ahly to wrapping up an Egyptian Premier League title‚ which had been sealed by Weiler‚ in style with four wins and a draw in the Devils’ last five matches‚ plus he beat Wydad in the Champions League semis.
Things are sure to get tougher in a full season for the coach in 2020-21‚ but while the honeymoon is still on‚ “Mosimania” is a term that seems likely to become more common should Ahly beat Zamalek on Saturday night.
* (Some of) Egypt’s national team fans might forgive South Africa and Baxter
There seems an irony to it that a South African coach will take the bench for Egypt’s biggest club against its second-biggest in a Champions League final at the 80‚000-seat venue where Baxter’s Bafana pulled off the shock of the tournament at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations beating the hosts 1-0 in the second round.
Mosimane can do a lot to repair international relations between Africa’s northern and southern-most financial superpowers‚ or at least with around half of the Egyptian population‚ steering Ahly to continental glory.
Zamalek supporters would remain miffed‚ and even more so‚ at the coach for having the notable record of beating their team twice in a Champions League final.
TimesLIVE (TMG Digital)