Pitso in a league of his own

Pitso Mosimane (Gallo Images)
Pitso Mosimane (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - "No man is an island. I could never have done it without the support."

Those were Pitso Mosimane's words after Mamelodi Sundowns secured their ninth Absa Premiership title following a narrow 1-0 win against Free State Stars on Saturday.

Lining-up alongside his technical staff during the post-match interview, the 54-year-old mentor praised their input as the season went down to the last day.

When all was said and done, Sundowns edged Orlando Pirates by two points in a title race that kept fans on the edge of their seats.

It has been a roller-coaster and nail-biting season as drama unfolded not only on the pitch, but off it as well.

Leading up to the final game of the season, Mosimane was quoted as saying it has been an "emotional" campaign for many reasons.

Early in the season, Mosimane was found guilty by the PSL of violent conduct for punching an AmaZulu security official.

Following a 3-3 stalemate against the KwaZulu-Natal outfit, Sundowns fans were seen having an argument with the official. Mosimane soon got involved in the fracas and was accused of throwing punches.

"There were no punches. You are trying to make a scene. Where were the punches?" he said at the time.

"Our supporters, two of them got onto the pitch. What do you do? You usher them out. You don't drag them like they are criminals."

As the season progressed, Mosimane found himself once again in the middle of a heated exchange.

During the group stages of the Champions League, their home leg fixture against Casablanca ended in Mosimane giving a heated post-match interview as he accused the away side of trying to intimidate the match officials at the Lucas Moripe stadium.

Then came former Sundowns striker Toni Silva's audacious comments as he lashed out at Mosimane, saying: "You are the weakest coach I have ever had in my life" after the coach said that the Guinea-Bissau international, "did not want to stay. Every time he wanted to go (to another club)."

But the most concerning matter was certainly the Wayne Arendse saga.

The defender was not initially named in the match-day squad against Bidvest Wits, but was selected during their Absa Premiership fixture which ended in a draw.

This was Mosimane's biggest mistake of the season and could still come back to haunt him.

Sundowns were then found guilty and according to the NSL (National Soccer League) rule book, the club was set to be docked the one point earned for the draw - which could conceivably have decided the league winner.

However, the Disciplinary Committee (DC) ruled that a fine for the club and player was sufficient punishment.

Instead of the points deduction, Sundowns were fined R250 000 - half of which remains suspended - while Arendse received a R50 000 penalty.

You'll begin to realise why it has been such an emotional season for the former Bafana Bafana coach as the Premier Soccer League lodged an appeal against the Disciplinary Committee's ruling of the Arendse situation - this all before the final day.

Despite all the fuss that was made, no final judgement has been decided. Whether there will be one, no one really knows.

"There are a lot of issues around this title. As I said and still saying, I am not excited about the league title," Mosimane continued in his post-match interview.

"I'm happy for the people who came, I am happy for the club, I'm happy for the players, but it was a hard fought one and, especially for me, it created a lot of enemies.

"You now… it's not nice… it’s not nice to win a title like this."

Mosimane becomes the only coach to win the Absa Premiership four times with one team - that is some feat.

Without being affected by what was going on and off the pitch, Mosimane has kept a cool head (when unprovoked), a characteristic that he did not have in his early years at Sundowns.

The way he has handled the media and kept his players calm has been admirable to witness as the club became consistent in the CAF Champions League and the Absa Premiership.

A murky image has always painted of the opinionated coach, but in his seven years at Chloorkop, Mosimane certainly has matured as a mentor and grown into his role as the club’s leading force.

The "big fish" as he coined the Absa Premiership title in 2016 is his - or should I say theirs - for now.

Tashreeq Vardien works at Sport24 and is a paper basketball dustbin champion... Follow Tashreeq on Twitter.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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