South African football legend Jomo Sono admits he never thought Pitso Mosimane would make it as far as the biggest club in Africa as a coach.
The former Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates striker started his playing at Sono’s Jomo Cosmos in 1982, but he is now on the brink of leading Al Ahly to a ninth CAF Champions League title.
Sono says even though the signs of being a leader were always there in Mosimane during their days at Ezenkosi, he doubted his ability as a coach.
“No, I never thought as a coach he would go that far,” Sono tells KickOff.com.
“But he’s done well, as a player he was a very confident young boy. I remember when he was a coach at SuperSport [United], there was a game between Cosmos and SuperSport. His assistant was Thomas Madigage, I think it was SAA (Coca Cola Cup, Cosmos won 4 – 1 on penalties) I think we played in Petersburg in the cup final, and Cosmos beat them in the penalties and he was shouting we were ‘playing negatively, we parked a bus’, and I could see that when he started attacking he will go far because he wants to win.
“He is a winner, he wants to win. I could see from that day that he is going to do well even in coaching. He’s got the same attitude as he was as a player. But he’s done very, very well for himself, for Mamelodi Sundowns, his family and the country as well.
“Ya Pitso had all those signs you know (of leadership). I remember we played Kaizer Chiefs at Ellis Park. There was a goalkeeper called Craig Le Grange at Kaizer Chiefs and I had just scored a place – kick…I was still playing then. It went on and Chiefs scored an equaliser. With about few minutes to go we got another place – kick. Same position. While I was preparing to take it, from nowhere Pitso came and he shot it and he scored. I didn’t expect him to do what he did. After scoring it he said ‘We can also hit lezinto maan (these things)!’ But what do you say after that? Do you fight? You can’t fight you celebrate (laughing).
“Typical of him you know, very arrogant, very arrogant you know in his ability. He is so passionate about the game. He is passionate about coaching as he was as a footballer.”
Sono says the popular belief that Mosimane is only succeeding because he chooses to coach clubs that are loaded with cash is not true.
“It doesn’t matter, even at Manchester they are loaded…why worry about being loaded? Some cannot coach a loaded Barcelona. Those are sour grapes you know. Everybody is loaded. The big teams are loaded, Chiefs, Pirates are loaded. He knows how to make it his loadedness play the way he wants. He makes his own luck. Yes in football sometimes you need luck, and you make it yourself by putting a right person in his right position.”
READ: El Shahat: How Pitso helped me
When asked if Mosimane should be the next national team coach, Sono explained, “He was there before, it’s not easy there. You don’t coach these players for six months. You only meet for a week or two. It’s not easy the national team it’s not easy. And these players they don’t belong to you they come from different countries and different teams. And the coaching is different from where they are from and now you have to change them, fine – tune them so that they can be able to do what you want.
“I see people attacking [Molefi] Ntseki, it’s not easy it’s gonna be difficult for him as well. But you must give him time you know he’s been there as an assistant coach he knows what is happening. He needs all the support. But the problem in South Africa they want quick service.”