When Pitso Mosimane left Mamelodi Sundowns to join Al Ahly in October of last year, all indications were that he departed with blessing of his former employer.
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“I have received a warm and emotional note from Pitso and am very proud of his achievements at Mamelodi Sundowns. Pitso has been the most successful coach in the history of Sundowns and will always be a member of the Mamelodi Sundowns Family. I wish him, Moira and his family everything of the very best and I hope to see him coaching in Europe soon,” said Sundowns owner Patrice Motsepe at the time.
It seemed normal, indeed, that a man who had turned Sundowns into comfortably the best team on the continent, with a trophy haul to match, and who had also made them a regular member of the continent’s elite, even winning the Caf Champions League in 2016, would leave with a permanent place in the hearts of those working at the club, and the club’s supporters.
All of this made it even more shocking when a video emerged of a group of Sundowns supporters screaming abuse at Mosimane as the Ahly team bus entered the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday for the second leg of their Caf Champions League quarterfinal.
Pitso Mosimane says “they insulted me & my mother, I know who did this & who instigated them. Even before I came to SA people told me about what was planned against me”. He must reveal their names & they must be dealt with. Why is Sundowns silent though? pic.twitter.com/7J2okZbr64
— Floyd Shivambu (@FloydShivambu) May 23, 2021
“F**k off Mosimane’ read one placard, while insults at Mosimane’s mother could also be heard, and the man himself did not hold back at his post-match press conference. The abuse, Mosimane claimed, was engineered from within Sundowns football club, and had started long before the game on Saturday, with messages and emails sent to him in Cairo.
A feeling that bad blood very much exists between someone within Sundowns and Mosimane was exacerbated by the fact that the club took their time in issuing a statement condemning their fans’ behaviour outside the stadium in Atteridgeville. And when they did, they apologised to Ahly, but strangely did not even mention Mosimane, the direct target of the abuse. Their statement was certainly weak in its condemnation when compared with that released later by the South African Football Association.
It feels important at this stage to say that most Sundowns fans support Mosimane, as far as I can tell, and have the utmost respect for what he did for the Tshwane giants. Furthermore, there is no indication whatsoever that the venom towards Mosimane in any way, shape or form comes from Patrice Motsepe, who has also left Tshwane for Cairo, to take up the role of president of the Confederation of African Football.
This abuse came from a minority of fans, who deserve to be banned from attending Sundowns matches. Abuse like this simply has no place in the game. And if there is someone within Sundowns engineering this abuse, they deserve to be unceremoniously thrown out of the club.
Mosimane is a brash character, and often that brashness does come across as arrogance. His comments that he basically gave his successors at Sundowns a ready-made success story, by suggestion discrediting their own efforts, do not sit well, and frankly, he could do with serving up a little more humility at times. Yet this arrogance has been backed up with trophies to match, and he has done so much for Sundowns that it beggars belief that a group of Masandawana fans would treat Mosimane in this disgusting manner.
One wonders in all this, if he ever leaves Ahly and returns to South Africa, would Pitso really go back to Choorklop? In the long term, Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates could benefit from Sundowns’ lack of tact.