Mosimane at Al Ahly to open European doors for Mamelodi Sundowns coach Mokwena

Pitso Mosimane and Rhulani Mokwena - Mamelodi Sundowns July 2020
The ex-Downs tactician has explained the weight of his responsibility at the eight-time African champions, but sees it as an opportunity for others

Pitso Mosimane says the Al Ahly job is like coaching La Liga giants Real Madrid or Barcelona and feels that he is in Egypt to open the pathway for his former assistant Rhulani Mokwena to work in Europe.

Mosimane got to a flying start in his new role at the Cairo giants when he guided them to a 1-0 victory over Al Mokawloon on Sunday after only being appointed as coach three days earlier.

Being in his first coaching job outside South Africa and becoming the first sub-Saharan tactician to coach Al Ahly, Mosimane feels that he has opened doors for other local coaches to surpass him by landing contracts in Europe.

“I always tell Rhulani that they are the generation of local coaches to go to Europe. And how does Rhulani go to Europe? Pitso must go to Egypt and show that we can take on the big jobs,” Mosimane told New Frame.

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“Of course, it is difficult. I was talking to [former Manchester United striker] Dwight Yorke the other time when we were analysts together and he was saying how difficult it is for them [black coaches] to enter that space [the English Premier League]. But [white] guys who didn’t even play get the chance.

“Look, it has taken over 100 years for Ahly to hire a black coach. But those of us who get these chances, if you win games, that might help [open the doors for others].”

The former Mamelodi Sundowns coach says the weight of responsibility at Al Ahly is huge, likening it to taking up a job at La Liga giants Real Madrid or Barcelona.

He arrived at Al Ahly after spending eight years at Sundowns and the Cairo giants have a history of being impatient with their coaches.

“This is like coaching [Real] Madrid or Barca in Europe. It’s like coaching Flamengo or Santos, or River Plate or Boca Juniors in South America. It is as huge as that. So you say to yourself, let me go there,” Mosimane said.

“Of course, you know the risks are big in those big clubs. If you look at the record of the team itself, you won’t be going easily because coaches don’t last in that space. But I could say the same thing about when I came to Mamelodi Sundowns.

“The lifespan of coaches at Sundowns was not even a year; it was about eight to nine months before I came in. And I said to myself, do I want to go to that environment? But look what came out – almost eight years came out. So, it’s either you go there and believe you can succeed.

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“I don’t go to a space where I don’t think it can work out. I believe it will work out because I’ve played against Zamalek, I’ve played against Al Ahly. And not once. Those are the dominant teams that win the league in that space.

“So, what else should I be afraid of in that space? And they are competing against Wydad that I’ve played against, I think, 10 times.”

With Al Ahly having already won the league title under Mosimane’s predecessor Rene Weiler, clinching the Caf Champions League for the first time since 2013 is the biggest task awaiting the ex-Downs coach.