Pitso Mosimane: 'I believe Gavin Hunt can go and coach in North Africa'

Al Ahly Head Coach Mosimane Pitso.
Al Ahly Head Coach Mosimane Pitso.
Image: Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

Pitso Mosimane agrees he has broken barriers for sub-Saharan coaches in North Africa making a still successful transition as coach of the continent’s most successful team‚ Al Ahly.

Mosimane became the first black Sub-Saharan to coach Ahly with a bombshell move from Mamelodi Sundowns in September last year.

Many predicted quick doom for a brave career move‚ but 10 months later Mosimane remains at Ahly as they prepare to defend their Caf Champions League title against Kaizer Chiefs in the June 17 final in Morocco‚ and in contention to retain their Egyptian Premier League title too.

Mosimane was asked in a digial press conference with the SA Football Journalists’ Association (Safja) if he feels his so-far successful precedent might have led to Morocco’s RS Berkane appointing highly-rated Democratic Republic of Congolese coach Florent Ibenge this week.

He said he might have‚ but also pointed out that Senegal coach Aliou Cisse‚ Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi and late Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi had broken barriers for African coaches before him. He said other SA coaches‚ including four-time league winner Gavin Hunt‚ who surprisingly joined Chippa United on Wednesday after a torrid year at Chiefs‚ could also coach in North Africa.

“I just like to jump. I like to challenge systems and programmes. I’m fidgety. I needed to know what this thing is about‚” Mosimane said‚ explaining that his need to escape comfort zones played a significant role in him leaving Mamelodi Sundowns for Ahly.

“If you look at my interviews‚ I said‚ ‘I want to know about North African football. It’s about time somebody from SA knows and understands North African football‚ and we should change the mentality of North African football’.

“ … I wanted to know‚ ‘What is this North African dominance? What makes that‚ what do they do‚ what’s happening there?’

“ … And I want my fellow South Africans to know it. I believe Gavin Hunt can coach in North Africa – no doubt. But he opted for Chippa – it’s his life.

“When you go to North Africa‚ the life is not playing golf and all that. There’s no rest‚ forget all of that.

“I can’t go to a shopping mall. I’ve been once in nine months and I was escorted by three bodyguards.

“Because the people look at football differently. Imagine you have got a team that’s supported by more than the population of SA – 70 million.

“I buy things online – I buy things from SA‚ because I can’t move. It’s a bit crazy.

“So I think Gavin Hunt can come here. And yes‚ the media in the Middle East now is talking about that – that I’ve broken barriers for African coaches to be in North Africa.

“And Florent is a good friend of mine – we’ve spoken about it. I was the first to congratulate him.

“He’s my good brother – we talk on the sides and I said‚ ‘go for it my brother’. he said‚ ‘You have broken the barriers’.

“I said‚ ‘No it’s not me. It’s Aliou Cisse who broke barriers with Senegal going to the [2019 Nations Cup] final. It’s Stephen Keshi who broke barriers being coach of Nigeria and not having foreigners only. Djamal‚ who won the [2019] Nations Cup with Algeria’.

“African coaches deserve to be given a chance. And if we were given the same situations and teams in Europe you don’t think we will do it? I mean you can’t tell me I can’t win one game their in La Liga with one of the mid-table teams. The level is the same.”

Nine-time champions Ahly are the overwhelming favourites in the Champions League final at Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca against first-time finalists Chiefs.

Al Ahly Head Coach Mosimane Pitso.
Al Ahly Head Coach Mosimane Pitso.
Image: Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images