Al Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane has admitted he had his doubts during half-time of the Caf Champions League final against Zamalek at the Cairo International Stadium on Friday night.
Zamalek had been looking for their sixth Champions League title and first since 2002, and Al Ahly were out for a ninth crown, and their first since 2013, having lost in two finals since then.
In a tight and thrilling game, Al Ahly took an early fifth-minute lead through Amr Al Sulaya. But the Whites hit back 25 minutes later through Shikabala. Ultimately the winner came in the 86th minute through Mohamed Magdi as Mosimane claimed his second Champions League title as head coach after winning it with Mamelodi Sundowns in 2016.
Normally confident and authoritative and not short on words, Mosimane admitted to feeling anxious at half time with the scores locked at 1-1 and with the pressure on to end the club's seven-year wait to win the title - by their incredibly high standards, a fairly long time.
And so he managed the situation as best he could, preferring to take a back seat to his experienced goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shennawy.
“Of course I was nervous but when you fly a plane and face some challenges you can’t show the passengers how you’re really feeling because they depend on you," Mosimane told Al Ahly TV, as quoted by Kingfut.
“I let Mohamed El-Shennawy to talk to the players during half-time. His speech was powerful and effective, while I was waiting in another room because he understands their culture and they’ll understand what he’s saying. My role is to talk about the technical aspects,” the former Bafana Bafana coach continued.
“You also have to listen to the people around you and try to see and listen to everyone and respect their culture and religion and make them accept you. Then you share with them your vision and your style of play."
It's this ability to humble himself when needed and to adapt to surroundings that is one of Mosimanes's strengths and will surely stand him well, for his time in Egypt and beyond.
“All things must be done rationally and you shouldn’t just sell people an idea or a dream. You have to be precise and know their strengths and weaknesses to correct them," Mosimane explained..
“The main question we asked ourselves was why didn’t the club win this trophy in the past seven years? And after the first 45 minutes, the team wasn’t sure if we would win the game, which is a normal feeling taking into account the fact that we haven’t won it in seven years.
“You have to understand the situation you’re in. I came to coach a big team in a very critical period and that’s why I couldn’t start everything from scratch but I had to start implementing my ideas little by little."