Now that Pitso Mosimane’s trophy-laden 20-month relationship with Al Ahly has ended, what is next for one of Africa’s most successful club coaches?
This is the lingering question after the two parties confirmed their parting of ways on Monday.
Mosimane opted to leave the decorated African club champions despite its board backing him to stay.
The 57-year-old narrowly missed out on being the first coach to win three successive CAF Champions League titles when the Red Devils lost the final to Moroccan giants Wydad Casablanca in Casablanca in May.
READ: Pitso Mosimane: ‘PSL clubs can afford me’
During his tenure, the tactician from Kagiso township in the West Rand guided Al Ahly to five major trophies, including the back-to-back continental titles in the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons, the 2020 and 2021 CAF Super Cup, and the 2020/21 Egyptian Cup, as well as two Fifa Club World Cup bronze medals.
Despite all that success, Mosimane, a firebrand character with a no-holds-barred approach to life and coaching, was never really a settled figure in Cairo.
His departure came as little surprise after the club summoned him to two hastily convened meetings in the past week, which it bizarrely publicised in the Egyptian media.
A FORTHRIGHT FIGURE
Mosimane’s relationship with the Egyptian media, legends of the club and supporters has been frosty from the day he set foot in the populous Egyptian capital.
His forthrightness appears to have rattled some within the super club who wield influence.
He immediately had detractors who were frustrated that his success allowed him the freedom to express himself freely and gave him confidence to stand up to what he believed to be unjust and unfair conduct.
In fact, he once told City Press in an exclusive interview in November that he was his own boss.
READ: Pitso: I’m my own boss
“Jingles” said Al Ahly president Mahmoud El Khatib, popularly known as Captain Bibo, gave him carte blanche as club head coach.
Mahmoud El Khatib said,
It was such bold statements that rubbed Mosimane’s detractors the wrong way, even after delivering a first Champions League title for the club after seven barren years.
The only accolade that eluded him was the Egyptian Premier League title as his predecessor, René Weiler, had already guided the Red Devils to league triumph when the South African arrived at the club in October 2020.
But that pales in significance given that in Egypt winning the Champions League always comes first, second only to their national team qualifying for the World Cup.
A SOUGHT-AFTER BRAND
It is undisputed that the former Mamelodi Sundowns coach’s brand and value shot up during his tenure at Al Ahly.
Mosimane’s exit from the club will, in all likelihood, attract attention from other giants elsewhere on the continent and beyond.
He is admired further up in the Middle East and he knows it.
When his talks with Al Ahly for a contract renewal were ongoing last year, he hinted to City Press that he would not struggle to get another coaching job.
Mosimane said in November;
READ: Pitso Mosimane’s real fight is with his winning self
Last week, during his interaction with the media in Midrand, Johannesburg, Mosimane said he believed that the big PSL clubs could still afford him if he were to return to the South African club football scene.
It has been reported that he was on a R2.5 million monthly salary. And given that he had signed with Al Ahly another two years in March, Mosimane will be smiling all the way to the nearest bank.
Many believe that figure will scare off any PSL club, but Mosimane, who didn’t confirm his salary at Ah Ahly, did not see it that way.
“What we should be talking about is that maybe we don’t have the same culture where we can pay a coach R2 million.”
READ: ‘I took my medal out and gave it to a ball boy’ – Pitso
There is no vacancy at his former club, however, with the “three wise men” Manqoba Mngqithi, Rulani Mokwena and Steve Komphela a settled unit at Sundowns, while Kaizer Chiefs have just appointed Arthur Zwane on a three-year deal.
Orlando Pirates still have Mandla Ncikazi as coach, even though there are questions marks over his stay after his co-coach Fadlu Davids was let go last week.
Whether Ncikazi remains or not, the idea of Mosimane coaching Pirates or any PSL team in the coming season sounds as far-fetched as would any notion of a return Bafana Bafana.
This is a developing story.