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Pressure on Pitso after league defeat to Zamalek, even as Tau is set to join Ahly

Al Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane during the Fifa Club World Cup semifinal against Bayern Munich at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Doha, Qatar, on February 8 2021.
Al Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane during the Fifa Club World Cup semifinal against Bayern Munich at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Doha, Qatar, on February 8 2021.
Image: Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

Amid calls for his head after Al Ahly failed to defend their Egyptian Premier League title on Tuesday night, sealed by bitter Cairo rivals Zamalek, Red Devils coach Pitso Mosimane is on the verge of clinching the signing of Percy Tau on loan.

After Al Ahly were held to a 3-3 draw away to El Gouna — handing Zamalek, 2-0 winners at home to El Entag El Harby, an unassailable six-point lead with three games to go — Mosimane pointed to fatigue from his team’s frenetic schedule having finally caught up with them.

In Egypt, fuelled by capitulating to Zamalek of all teams, debates have raged, somewhat unfairly, as to whether Mosimane’s phenomenal five trophy success was a continuation of Swiss predecessor Rene Weiler’s work.

Adding to the intrigue, Mosimane was apparently on the verge of the coup signing of Tau on loan from English Premier League team Brighton and Hove Albion, with the Bafana Bafana star apparently in Cairo to conclude the deal.

In Egypt, more than most countries, at the helm of a club Mosimane says has 70 million supporters, you are only as good as your last trophy.

As the first black sub-Saharan African to coach Al Ahly, the ex-Mamelodi Sundowns coach has been under increasing scrutiny, drawing support  but also often criticism verging on scorn from Ahly legends, some of whom he beat as coaches in matches.

Mosimane pointed out on Tuesday night that it was the only other competition Ahly entered that he did not win— ending third at the Fifa Club World Cup — that piled the matches onto his team’s programme, already extended by defending their Caf Champions League title.

By early August, exhaustingly playing catch-up in matches, Ahly had closed a 14-point gap in two months on Patrice Carteron’s Zamalek. But three draws in the Red Devils’ last five matches took its toll.

“Al Ahly is a great team. We will turn the page and come back stronger,” Mosimane said.

 “We suffered a lot from fatigue during the previous period as we kept playing for 10 consecutive months. We won the bronze medal of the Club World Cup, the Caf Super Cup, and two Caf Champions League titles. We are human beings and it is normal to suffer from fatigue.

“We might have lost the Egyptian Premier League title, but we managed to achieve great things during the previous period.”

Arriving in a shock move after winning 11 trophies in six years at Sundowns in late September 2020, Mosimane closed the Egyptian league title wrapped up by Weiler unbeaten, won the Champions League from the semi-final stage and the Egyptian Cup from the quarters.

Ahly won the Caf Super Cup in May, and defended the Champions League with their 3-0 final win against Kaizer Chiefs in Morocco on July 17.

Mosimane became coach with the second-highest Champions League titles — three, as he won it in 2016 with Sundowns too — and only the fourth in the competition’s 57-year history to win back-to-back titles.