Pitso Mosimane might have had run-ins with the Mamelodi Sundowns hierarchy in recent times but his abrupt departure from the team yesterday was put down more to his ambition to grow as a coach than a falling out.
The Sundowns mentor’s bombshell resignation — made just weeks after he won his fifth PSL title with the team — was reportedly motivated by Mosimane’s desire to take up a job with one of the top clubs in North Africa.
TimesLIVE’s sources have linked him to continental giants Al Ahly of Egypt as well as his bitter rivals in the Caf Champions League, Wydad Casablanca of Morocco.
Mosimane yesterday released a statement on his Twitter account confirming his resignation from Sundowns after an eight-year association to “join an international club”.
The coach, who won a historic domestic “treble” — the Premiership, Nedbank Cup and League Cup — this past season, begins his new job as soon as he is available.
It was not immediately clear how Mosimane’s new club and Sundowns will handle the four-year contract he still has with the Brazilians.
Mosimane was apparently approached by Al Ahly after he delivered Sundowns’ 10th Premiership title on a dramatic final day of the season in which the Brazilians overtook Kaizer Chiefs, who had been in the driving seat of the title race all season.
Among many things that upset Mosimane at Chloorkop was the expectation that he report to technical director José Ramón Alexanko, and the lengthy delay in confirming his contract extension when he could have signed with a new club in January.
Though Mosimane had the will to see off those challenges and proved his detractors in the club wrong, insiders said yesterday that he viewed the approach by Al-Ahly as a perfect opportunity to grow as a coach.
“It is true that he has not been happy with some decisions.
“His constant punting of local coaches stems from the fact that he was expected to report to the technical director [Alexanko].
“He wasn’t comfortable with this,” a source close to both the coach and club said.
“Also, he was frustrated about his contract.
“He was being approached by several clubs, locally and in North Africa, and he just couldn’t understand the delay in securing a new contract with Sundowns.”
Mosimane’s contract was finally extended for four years in May.
But having won the treble, Mosimane reportedly decided he should take up the vacancy at Al-Ahly, with whom he had high-profile clashes in the Caf Champions League in recent times.
Reports from Egypt said Mosimane would get a two-year contract.
With Ahly in the Champions League semifinal — ironically after beating Downs over two legs in the quarterfinal — Mosimane could have a chance to win a second continental title in four years.
The race to replace him at Chloorkop will intensify, but the club’s president, Patrice Motsepe, appeared to rule out the possibility of Spaniard Alexanko taking over as head coach, saying he would remain in his role of technical director.
It was unclear if first assistant coach Manqoba Mngqithi would ascend to the position.
The statements released by both the coach and Motsepe yesterday appeared conciliatory, in what could be seen as an attempt to leave the door open for the coach’s possible return in future.
“I have on several occasions expressed my support for Pitso leaving Sundowns to coach in North Africa or Europe or Bafana Bafana.
“Football players and coaches have at times an uncertain and inconsistent future and must pursue new opportunities where they may grow and receive greater remuneration,” Motsepe said.
Mosimane, meanwhile, paid tribute to the mining magnate.
“I’m so grateful that the president [Motsepe] has blessed my move.
“My success is his success.
“Without him, I would not have achieved what I have.
“Mamelodi Sundowns has been my family for almost eight years.
“President Dr Patrice Motsepe has been like a father to me.
“He has been a mentor, a friend, a supporter and a confidante.
I could never quit him or Mamelodi Sundowns.
“I am only going away to carry the spirit of the Yellow Nation with me,” he said.
By Nkareng Matshe — SowetanLIVE, TimesLIVE