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Why Mosimane is an ambassador - and not a traitor - to South African sport

Pitso Mosimane
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Mosimane, with five PSL titles, has won South Africa’s domestic showpiece event more times than any other coach. He also achieved a history-making treble with Sundowns last season.

Mosimane, in the build-up to his 2019/20 treble, had given guarantees of a five-year extension with Sundowns.

Then African giants Al Ahly called and Mosimane revisited his earlier decision.

Some accused him of turning his back on Sundowns, the club whose owner and players had contributed so much to his success as a coach. Others even claimed Mosimane was betraying South African soccer. Both accusations are ridiculous because Mosimane’s African adventure with Al Ahly can only benefit the standing of South African soccer and add to the intellectual capital should Mosimane ever consider taking charge of the national team.

Mosimane got a famous welcome on his arrival in Egypt and he also started his tenure with a victory.

Champion team supporters love a winner, and Mosimane, who arrived with huge fanfare, has already delivered.

For those not that well versed with African club football, Al Ahly are the biggest club in Africa and they have achieved the most success outside of their domestic competitions. Their glory years were a four-year spell in which they won the Confederation of Africa Champions League three times between 2005 and 2008 and made the final in 2007. In all they have won the CAF Cup eight times and in 2000 were voted Africa’s Club of the Century in 2000.

To give you an idea of their support, they have 17 million followers on social media. Kaizer Chiefs, with the biggest support in South Africa, have 4 million.

Mosimane is 56 years-old, and his managerial lifespan extends another decade.

South African football, in international sporting isolation, was always hyped. We believed we had the best players when deprived the chance to play against the rest of Africa.

This insular view was only reinforced when Bafana Bafana won the African Cup of Nations on their first attempt in 1996. 

From the heights of Neil Tovey’s inspired 1996 champions, who beat Tunisia 2-0 in the final, Bafana  Bafana have dramatically slumped in Africa’s ratings.

Having the biggest club in Africa want South Africa’s most successful coach is a compliment. Mosimane’s decision to say yes is not an insult to South Africa. It is also a compliment because it will inspire other coaches to look beyond domestic borders. It will also be aspirational to our best domestic talent to want to venture into other African countries or into Europe and the United Kingdom.

There was a time, not too long ago, when several South African players were starring in Europe and the United Kingdom. 

Mosimane may just be the catalyst for a more global appreciation of South African soccer, just as those handful of players are doing for South African cricket with stunning performances in the Indian Premier League.

Kagiso Rabada, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock and Anrich Nortje are sizzling in the IPL, at a time when Cricket South Africa's custodians are doing everything to burn the house down in South African cricket.

The quintet’s performances are a reminder of the quality of South African cricketers, just as Mosimane is an example of the quality of South Africa’s best soccer coach.

And let’s not forget our world champion rugby players who continue to excel in the United Kingdom and in France.

All of those South Africans, based abroad in a variety of codes, are sporting ambassadors and should never be accused of being traitors.