Why Mosimane is under huge pressure as Al Ahly versus Mamelodi Sundowns clash looms large

Al Ahly.

After a fairy-tale beginning to his Al Ahly career, Pitso Mosimane seems to be standing on much shakier ground as he gets set to lead his team into battle against former club Mamelodi Sundowns in a Caf quarter-final clash in Cairo on Saturday evening.

When Mosimane first joined the Egyptian giants, in October 2020, he could do little wrong. The timing of his appointment worked out well as he was in charge of just four league matches before Al Ahly wrapped up the league title, and shortly after that he took his side to glory in the Caf Champions League by beating Zamalek, while he also clinched the Egyptian Cup and performed well at the Club World Cup.

It was about as good a honeymoon period as any coach could ask for. But at a club as big and successful as Al Ahly, and expectations always so high, and with ex-players ready to speak their minds about Mosimane’s managing of the team, it was never going to be all plain sailing.

Historically, certainly in the last decade, Al Ahly have not been a club afraid to fire their coaches – Mosimane was the 18th appointment since Hossam El Badry parted ways in November 2010 (several coaches have had more than one stint in that period).

Bare in mind, this came in a period when the club won the Caf Champions League three times from five final appearances and the Egyptian league title eight times.

Mosimane has overseen 40 matches. Of the other 17 coaches before him, only four were in charge for more games (the most was 95 matches).

The point being, the Cairo-based club is quick to pull the trigger on their coaches even if they’ve won trophies.

And as Mosimane gets ready to take on his former team on Saturday, he first has the not-so-small matter of Monday’s derby with Zamalek to deal with.

A win for bitter rivals Zamalek would see them moving seven points clear of Al Ahly at the top of the table. Should Ahly lose to the Whites, and subsequently get knocked out by Sundowns over the two-legged Champions League quarter-final, Mosimane’s position could become very precarious.

He’s already under pressure after a couple of recent poor results, and was criticized heavily by ex-Al Ahly forward Mohamed Fadl after the Reds had dropped eight points from their last six games, including shock defeats to Ghazl El-Mahalla and Smouha.

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“Pitso Mosimane is a lucky coach and is good during big games only,” Fadl was quoted saying by Kingfut.

“People remember Al Ahly’s performance during the Rene Weiler era and the achievements of Manuel Jose only. Mosimane doesn’t yet know the potential of coaching Al Ahly. It is not right to play Walter Bwalya at the expense of Mohamed Sherif.

“Next season Bwalya will probably leave on loan, due to the inability of Mosimane to gradually integrate him into the team. Mosimane’s management of the games is poor. We saw Ghazl El-Mahalla and Al Masry completely dominating their matches against Al Ahly.”

If things were to go downhill for Mosimane and he found himself jobless, it won’t be surprising to quickly see him being linked with the likes of floundering Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates.