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'Mosimane has what it takes' 25/08/04
Fans' columnist Unathi Mntonintshi thinks that SuperSport United coach Pitso Mosimane has what it takes to become a great coach...

The first time I saw Pitso Mosimane with my naked eyes was at FNB Stadium when Jomo Cosmos played Orlando Pirates some few seasons ago. Nkosinathi Nhleko scored 4 goals for Cosmos and Cosmos won by that margin.

My friend and I decided to sit not far from where Pitso was sitting because he was with Augustine Makalakalane. We were both interested in what Makalakalane was going to say about the game.

You see Makalakalane was one of the first few South Africans to play in Europe after the South African Football Association was admitted back in FIFA.

We were both interested in whether in Augustines books we had made any progress since his playing days for the national team. We both expected Makalakalane to have a go at the quality of play between the two teams.

However, it was Pitso Mosimane who had a lot to say about the game. Augustine chipped in there and then. Mosimane lambasted the players for not being comfortable on the ball. Only Steve Lekoelea was prepared to keep the ball and make those incisive short passes. Both men lambasted how dull the game was despite the show from Nhleko.

Even more importantly Ted Dumitru was the coach at Pirates at the time. I must also add that most of Nhlekos goals were quite quality goals. They both said that there are no opportunities for local coaches and how if they could coach they would make things different.

Both men never had very distinguished international careers. For Makalakalane perhaps it had little to do with his ability than his mouth. You see the fans turned against him after his sharp criticism of local football. They booed him at every Bafana match he played.  The only thing I can remember about Mosimane is his goal against Mauritius in Mauritius.

To my friend and I it seemed more like sour grapes than constructive criticism. These were two guys who never really made it at international football and were taking a swipe at every person involved in football.

However, we remembered that they were part of the team that won the league in 1987 when Kaizer Chiefs failed to get a point from three games. We left after the game wondering whether if they were given such an opportunity they would make a difference.

Makalakalane has not been a coach of any note since that Wednesday night perhaps due to a lack of opportunities. However, for Mosimane he started as an assistant coach to Terry Paine at Supersport United.

However, Terry Paine was accused of over-coaching and he was subsequently relieved of his coaching duties. Mosimane was then thrown in the deep end. I immediately reminded my friend about that night at FNB Stadium and we both agreed to wait and see whether Mosimane would do anything better or different.

The first notable change with Supersport United after his appointment was the sharp reduction in the number of white players in the first team. This also brought hope for many local footballers for a chance to play professional football. Within no time a local boy Raymond Seopa had emerged as a star in the making.

Unfortunately Seopas blossoming career was cut short a road accident. However the good signs were there as Mosimane came second in the league in his first season in charge. The following season Mosimane managed to come second again.

Ever since the days of Stanley Tshabalala at Mamelodi Sundowns, there has been no local black coach who had won the league and if Mosimanes results where anything to go by, perhaps that was about to change. However, it became apparent that his team lacked the level of consistency necessary to bring the league to Pretoria.

However if what his team displayed against Kaizer Chiefs at Securicor Loftus last season can be served every week, then the league could be heading for Pretoria soon. Supersport outthought, outplayed, outclassed and more importantly outscored Kaizer Chiefs in a game that must rate highly as one of the games of the season.

This game reminded me of what Deportivo la Coruna did to AC Milan during the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League last season. On at least four occasions Mosimanes team strung over 10 passes with no reply from Ted Dumitrus team.

This perhaps provided the first taste of the kind of football that national coach Stuart Baxter should attempt to play with Bafana Bafana.

Fortunately my friend also watched this game and some other Supersport United games in the last two seasons. We both have concluded that our intuitive opinion about Mosimane was wrong.

The kind of football played by his team is entertaining and the players all want the ball. Perhaps more importantly they seem to understand that the ball is a scarce commodity that needs to be preserved as much as possible.

And it is true that Mosimane remains the best bet for a black South African coach to win the league title after Stanley Tshabalala with Mamelodi Sundowns. Perhaps more importantly he exhibits the arrogance that is needed to succeed.

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