Pitso has everything, the only challenge is he is a black coach

18 Jan, 2022 - 00:01 0 Views
Pitso has everything, the only challenge is he is a black coach PITSO Mosimane


Rory Smith in YAOUNDE

PITSO Mosimane has done enough winning in the last year, plus change, to talk about nothing else.

In November 2020, only three months after he was appointed manager of the Egyptian club Al Ahly, he won the African Champions League title.

He did so by beating Zamalek, Al Ahly’s fiercest rivals.

The final was cast as the Derby of the Century.

Eight months later, he repeated the trick.

Al Ahly returned to the Champions League final in July to face Kaizer Chiefs, the team Mosimane supported as a child in South Africa.

He won again.

He was showered with golden ticker tape on the field, then presented with bouquets of roses by government grandees when he returned to Cairo.

He places both trophies among his proudest moments as a manager, alongside coaching his country and winning his first continental trophy, with Mamelodi Sundowns, in 2016.

And, yet Mosimane does not rhapsodise about either victory quite so much as he does the one international tournament in 2021 that he did not win.

Between his two triumphs, Mosimane took Al Ahly to Qatar for the Club World Cup.

In the third-place playoff, his team overcame the South American champion, Palmeiras, to take bronze.

“Africa got a medal,” he said. “The year before, it had not won a medal. That, to us, was success.”

Mosimane has enjoyed a year that holds up in comparison to any of his peers.

He has not, though, been granted the same recognition.

When FIFA published its seven-member shortlist for its men’s Coach of the Year award a few weeks ago, Mosimane — who had lifted three continental honours in 2021 — was not on it.

He did not make the top seven, let alone the top three.

 Those spots were taken by Thomas Tuchel, Pep Guardiola and Roberto Mancini.

The pattern held for the women’s prize, too. Bev Priestman led Canada to an improbable Olympic gold in Tokyo, but she did not make the final cut.

The link, of those who made the cut, is that they all work in Europe.

 “It is not only Africa” that is overlooked, Mosimane said.

“It is as though it does not mean as much when you win in the competitions that do not generate the most money, that do not have the biggest audiences.”

Mosimane was appointed by Al Ahly, at least in part, because the club was “looking for someone who knew Africa, knew the Champions League, had beaten the teams they needed to beat.”

“I don’t know if there is another club in the world that has to win everything like Al Ahly does,” he said.

“I thought South Africans loved football. But they don’t love it as much as Egyptians do.

“There were people who asked whether I had the credibility to coach the biggest team in Africa and the biggest in the Middle East.”

Africa, as Mosimane pointed out, is full of European coaches.

It is small wonder, then, that Mosimane is convinced that if he was put in charge of Barcelona or Manchester City he would “not do too badly.”

He is resigned to the fact that he will never find out.

If FIFA finds it easy to overlook the success of African coaches, if African clubs are wary of the abilities of African coaches, then there is little hope a team from outside Africa will offer him that sort of chance.

Part of that, he is adamant, is to do with the colour of his skin.

He was pleased to see one of his former players, Bradley Cranell, appointed coach of St. Louis City S.C. in Major League Soccer.

“So, maybe, I could get a job in M.L.S. then?” he said.

He did not sound hopeful.

Carnell, after all, is white.

Europe is more distant still.

He has noted the almost complete absence of Black coaches — let alone Black African coaches — in Europe’s major leagues. He has spoken with former players of the highest pedigree who feel they are denied opportunities easily afforded to their white counterparts.

“That is the reality,” Mosimane said.

That is not to say he does not harbour ambitions.

His latest Champions League crown has earned him another tilt at the Club World Cup next month.

It is the trophy that he would like to win, with Al Ahly, above all others.

“There is nothing left for me to win in Africa,” he said.

Once his time in Cairo ends, he would like to try his hand at international management again.

The “timing” is not right for South Africa, he said, but perhaps Senegal, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire or Egypt might be feasible: one of the continent’s traditional powerhouses.

He would cherish the chance to coach the best players in the world in Europe, of course, but he knows soccer has imposed a ceiling between them and him.

His ambitions run as high as they can, given the way the world has been constructed around him, one in which opportunity is not always contingent on achievement. – New York Times.

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