Mngqithi‚ Mokwena pay tribute to Mosimane as he takes Ahly into Champions League semi

Rhulani Mokwena and Manqoba Mngqithi (Head Coaches) during the Mamelodi Sundowns virtual press conference on October 15, 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Rhulani Mokwena and Manqoba Mngqithi (Head Coaches) during the Mamelodi Sundowns virtual press conference on October 15, 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Image: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images

Mamelodi Sundowns’ co-coaches Manqoba Mngqithi and Rulani Mokwena have paid tribute to the club’s former coach Pitso Mosimane‚ agreeing that his move to African giants Al Ahly paves a path for more South African coaches to be recognised worldwide.

“He’s opening a door for all of us‚” said Mngqithi of Mosimane’s move to Africa’s club of the century‚ who meet Wydad Casablanca in the first leg of Ahly's Caf Champions League semifinal at the Mohammed V Stadium in Casablanca‚ Morocco‚ on Saturday night.

“We can’t help but appreciate the opportunity that he got and also appreciate the fact that he brought our countrymen in Calvin Johnson‚ Musi Matlaba and Kabelo Rangoaga [with him to Ahly].

“We believe they’ll represent SA with pride and also maybe open doors for most of our coaches in the southern hemisphere to also get these opportunities."

Mosimane took fitness trainer Rangoaga and analyst Matlaba to Ahly with him from Sundowns‚ and roped in former Platinum Stars and AmaZulu coach Johnson as his assistant.

“We really wish him the best of luck and we’re very confident that he got what it takes to pull through‚” Mngqithi said.

On Ahly's semifinal in Morocco‚ Mngqithi said the game will be fireworks‚ but nothing that Mosimane had not seen before as a Sundowns coach who won the same competition after beating Zamalek of Egypt in the 2016 final.

Mosimane fought many mammoth contests against Wydad as coach of Downs‚ winning the respect of the Moroccan giants and their supporters.

“One thing I can guarantee it’s more than a game‚” Mngqithi said.

“In that space of the North Africans it’s a fight and it’s bigger than what you can think of emotionally.

“At times the game can be a little bit scrappy because emotionally those players in that space never really produce a very nice clinical game because there’s always a fight within the game - the tackles‚ bookings and many things.

“But we know that coach Pitso has been in that space a lot. I’m very confident that he will represent us with dignity and honour.”

Mokwena also sang the praises of Mosimane‚ saying he deserves to be where he is in his coaching career.

“A very wise man once said to me that‚ ‘The moment finds the man’‚ and I think if there’s anybody who’s up to the task it will be coach Pitso‚” said Mokwena.

“What he’s accumulated over the years‚ his experience in semifinals of the Champions League‚ his experience of playing against Wydad‚ his experience of playing against North African teams‚ gives him the right tools to be able to maneuver as he continues on his trailblazing mission.

“Ours is just to support him and the rest of the technical team in their journey. He knows‚ even from a personal capacity‚ that he’s got all our support.

“He knows even in private conversations that he has all our support and it is one thing to express support in the public and it’s another to express sincerely your support in private.

“He knows that we wish him all the best of luck‚ but we’ve also got a lot of confidence in him and the rest of his technical team in coach Calvin and in 'KB' [Rangoaga] because they’re our people‚ they’re our brothers and we know that they can achieve what everybody else expects them to achieve.

“So all the best of luck and they’ll be lifting the trophy very soon‚ so we wish them all the best.”