Goal takes a look at what makes the Mamelodi Sundowns boss one of the best in the country, continent and one of the most tactically astute managers
Having won two Premier Soccer League titles, Nedbank Cup, Telkom Knockout Cup, Caf Super Cup and Caf Champions League trophies as well as making it to the Fifa Club World Cup, Mamelodi Sundowns mentor Pitso Mosimane has become one of the best coaches in South Africa.
With such accolades, many can say he is South Africa’s finest, but there’s more to winning trophies for the man also known as Jingles than it meets the eye.
Goal takes a look at what makes the Sundowns boss the best in the country, on the continent and one of the most tactically astute managers in modern football.
UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN PITSO AND SUNDOWNS
Mosimane took over in 2012 and saved the club from an average season under Johan Neeskens, and he went on and managed to win the league in his first full season in charge.
Mosimane alone could not have succeeded in changing the club’s fortunes – the understanding he has managed to establish between him and the management has helped in ensuring there’s success.
The board at the club bought into his vision as a man who prioritised the formation of a winning culture and his dream to conquer the continent; the dream he sucked from Patrice Motsepe’s ideology.
Despite failing to make his mark as head coach of Bafana Bafana, Mosimane proved his critics wrong when he won the league title for the second time in three seasons at the helm of Sundowns.
If there is an understanding between a club and a coach, rewards are certain and the fact that the club’s hierarchy does not block and dictate on who comes in and goes out, it has allowed the coach to have freedom to lead the technical team.
UNDYING AMBITION TO BE A WINNER
His ability to instill a winning mentality into the team is more derived from his ambition as a human being, all players who have worked with Mosimane can attest to this.
They usually say he is a difficult coach to work with. He doesn’t allow complacency to creep in, he wins today and wants to win tomorrow – that has helped Sundowns to finish in the top three since his arrival.
Just this week, the Brazilians became the first club to qualify for the Caf Champions League in five consecutive seasons and that shows he believes in his dream. He has ensured that his players see no limits in their quest to make their dreams a reality.
Some thought he was joking when he first announced that he will win the Caf Champions League with the Brazilians.
The Kagiso-born knew there would be challenges for him and his troops in travelling the length and breadth of the continent and he came up with various strategies to conquer the continent.
Many will recall the ‘Aluta Continua’, ‘Vitoria Ecetera’ and ‘Against All Odds’ slogans, and indeed Mosimane went on to lift the coveted prize and brought pride to the Tshwane people, the country’s football and ended dominance of North African clubs when it comes to continental football.
A 3-0 win over the so called Egyptian giants Zamalek in the first leg of the final would pave way for continental success for the Brazilians.
For that win, credit must go to the former Bafana Bafana coach who managed to play the White Knights at 15:00 in a scorching Pretoria weather – that was the trick.
That was the trick for him to kill Zamalek because he wanted to kill them off on so many areas, not only on the field of play but by also looking at matters off the field, such as the weather and so on.
UNITY IN PITSO’S TECNICAL TEAM
With Sundowns’ regular participation in continental football, many have predicted a downfall as a kind of after effects, for example neighbours, SuperSport United failed to rise to the occasion on the domestic front since their Caf Confederation Cup final last year.
Another example is how Orlando Pirates failed to maintain their standards after their final loss to Etoile du Sahel in 2015, the Ghost had a terrible campaign last season as they were suffering and recovering for their back-to-back campaigns in continental tournaments.
Now coming back to Sundowns, Mosimane has formed a bond with the likes of Kabelo Rangoaga (physical trainer) and team doctors to ensure the players remain in a top shape and those injured recover speedily.
Those are some of the fine elements that make the 53-year-old mentor to rise head and shoulders above his counterparts whilst also ensuring that next season is planned for in advance.
SCOUTING AND SIGNING OF PLAYERS
Mosimane hardly has a holiday or time to play golf as most of his counterparts do on their off-days when there are no official matches. Sundowns would play friendlies when they have a gap on their schedule.
Under Mosimane’s tutelage, Sundowns are on the verge of lifting their third PSL title (their eighth in total since the inception of the PSL in 1996), and one man can still be credited for that – Mosimane.
On his bench, there were two technically gifted coaches in Rhulani Mokwena and Manqoba Mngqithi – that technical team paved way for the club to embed a star just above the badge.
However, following the departure of Mokwena to Pirates last year, some said that was the demise of Sundowns, but it is the opposite for now.
The point is that during the off-season, Mosimane will travel the world trying to scout new talent, learning new coaching methods as far as the evolving game is concerned. For an example, he signed Colombian attacker Leonardo Castro and the Brazilian defender Ricardo Nascimento when everyone knew nothing about them.
But the biggest signings for the former African Coach of the Year remains Nascimento and Uruguayan midfielder Gaston Sirino. Sirino’s arrival was well-timed because Mosimane knew that his regular players would be tiring this term and he needed to refresh the squad.
The fact that they are unbeaten in 15 matches is testimony that the nippy midfielder has had a huge impact at Downs because of his ability to quickly grab the club’s philosophy and start the games on a high.
Yes, his failure for now is pace because the PSL is fast-paced, but his contribution is evident for all to see – Sirino is the man who changed the club as they became invincible since their 3-1 loss to Pirates early this year.
CURRENT COACHING TRENDS
Mosimane recently went to North Africa and underwent training under the Confederation of African Football (Caf) – the man left his duties as a coach and went back to class.
Mngqithi was left to lead the side against EC Bees in the Nedbank Cup and the fact that Mosimane went to update and get modern methods in coaching means he is on a mission to keep abreast of developments and employ those lessons.
Nowadays, coaches take time to plan for games and that is down to tactical planning. We all know that Jingles plans and thinks ahead. An example you will recall is the day he said has been sending scouts to watch his group stage opponents in their previous Champions League campaigns.
Those are the qualities of an ambitious, disciplined, professional and a coach who puts everything to win at the end of the day.
HUNGER FOR SECOND STAR AND TROPHIES
Journalists always ask him what his priorities are as a coach, and Mosimane is all about winning.
Mosimane is in the semi-finals of the Nedbank Cup this Sunday against Maritzburg United. They are in the group stages of the continental and on course for a second star.
Thirdly, his eye is firmly set on their eighth league title (his third as a coach) and they lead the standings with 55 points with three matches to wrap the season.
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With this ambitious manager at the helm of Sundowns, surely the club will keep collecting trophies, breaking records and making history.
With the latest developments that Bidvest Wits and SuperSport United have failed to reach the group stages of the Caf Confederation Cup, it means the PSL has one representative on the continent and that is Sundowns.
Mosimane has always rued the fact that South African clubs do not take the tournaments seriously and this also means the Chloorkop-based outfit will have to raise the bar this year in their quest for continental dominance.