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Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane: 'Victor Gomes is my buddy now'

Referee Victor Gomes and then Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane during the Absa Premiership match against Bidvest Wits at Moses Mabhida Stadium on December 17 2019.
Referee Victor Gomes and then Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane during the Absa Premiership match against Bidvest Wits at Moses Mabhida Stadium on December 17 2019.
Image: Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images

Victor Gomes is the No.1 referee in Africa at present and it would be a surprise if he is not selected to officiate at the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar in September, Al Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane has said.

Mosimane, when he was coach of Mamelodi Sundowns, had occasions when he tore his hair out and expressed his frustration at the seemingly overly exuberant officiating of the young Gomes in Downs' matches.

Gomes, 39, was one of the youngest referees to debut in professional football in SA at 25 in 2008. His maturity into a top-class international referee culminated in his accomplished handling, along with SA assistant referee Zakhele Siwela, of this month's 2021 Africa Cup of Nations final between victors Senegal and runners-up Egypt.

Mosimane said he encounters Gomes often as the two criss-cross the continent now, and they have become “buddies”.

“We have gone through teething stages — it's normal in football. And you know me — especially when I lose, I'm not a nice guy to be with,” Mosimane said, asked about his famous early clashes with Gomes in the PSL.

“And he understands that — it's OK. I always hear people say, 'Pitso is a bad loser'. OK, who is a good loser?

“That coach who loses and he's smiling on TV so he must be humble and people can say he's a decent guy. But I lost the match, sorry.

“I really love to win, I hate losing, and I'd rather be that guy who everyone says I'm a bad loser, but I'm not going to pretend and put on a show and a happy face on TV, So I must show my modesty.

“But we come far with Victor. We're buddies now. Because now we wear the same flag in the continent.

“We meet all the time. We meet on flights, we meet everywhere. And not just in the continent — we meet in the Gulf area.

“They have done very well, him and Zakhele. And I talk to Zakhele all the time.

“For me Victor Gomes is No.1 on the continent. And if he is No.1, I thought I would see him and Zakhele at the World Cup.

“Well done to Victor. And I'm happy Safa created a platform to really acknowledge them. Safa must boast about their products at international level.”

While Mosimane used to clash with Gomes on occasion, the then-Sundowns coach would recognise the young referee’s potential and praise him for his consistency.

Mosimane was addressing a digital press conference of the SA Football Journalists’ Association in the wake of Ahly winning a second successive bronze medal at the 2021 Fifa Club World Cup last weekend.


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