Recently, Mamelodi Sundowns announced that Pitso Mosimane would be renewing his contract for another four years, committing to the club until 2024.
Given his on-field success in the last 8 years with Masandawana, and recent rumors, this was rather expected. While it is easy to remember Mosimane’s recent titles as evidence of his genius, one has to trace back to the early 2000s, to really see when the foundations for his coaching journey were starting to get laid.
6 – Mosimane reached more domestic cup finals during his 6-year spell at SuperSport (6) than he has reached in his 7,5-year spell at Sundowns (5).
Unfortunately for young Mosimane, he only won two of those, losing four as we’ll cover in Part 2 of our Top8 history series. He never won the league with SuperSport either, although he led them to their highest PSL position (2) in his first two seasons, and breached the 50-point mark in four of his six seasons there.
2003 – THE UNDERDOGS CUP
In 2003, sponsorship of the Top8 tournament changed from BP to SAA. This was the year of the underdog, as none of Pirates, Chiefs and Sundowns reached the last four. This has only happened twice in the PSL (2003 and 2017). Jomo Cosmos also won the Top8 for the first time this year.
8 – The 2003 Supa8 was won by Jomo Cosmos, one of only two occasions in the PSL era where a side that finished 8th in the league won the Top8 the following season (also Celtic 2005).
2004 – PITSO’S EARLY SUCCESS
Mosimane led SuperSport to the 2004 SAA Supa8, their first ever Top8 title and his first domestic title as a coach. This young local coach was sending a statement to the established hierarchy of South African football. His side, fresh off a 3rd place finish in the league, shocked Ted Dumitru’s star-studded Amakhosi in the final. 1-0.
1 – SuperSport became the first PSL side to beat the defending league champions in a Top8 final. This record would remain until 2016, when Bidvest Wits beat league champions Sundowns in the 2016 MTN8 final.
Chiefs got their revenge with a late Collins Mbesuma goal in the Coca-Cola Cup final, denying Mosimane a quick double. However, he still got the double later on, winning the Absa Cup at the end of that season.
2005 – MORE FINALS FOR SUPERSPORT, LESS SUCCESS.
Mosimane’s Supersport continued where they left off the following season, coming from a goal down to beat Moroka Swallows 3-1 in the quarters. They then made it a 4th Cup final in a row thanks to a Vuyo Mere own goal in extra time to overcome Sundowns in the semis. This set the stage for a 3rd trophy in two years, with Matsatsantsa going into the final as favorites for the title.
4 – Under Mosimane, SuperSport became the first PSL side to reach four major domestic cup finals in a row. They would go on to become the first to reach 5 finals in a row with the Coca Cola Cup final in December 2005.
Their opponents in the 2005 final were Celtic, who had only finished 8th in the league the season before, which to date is still the lowest 8th placed team in PSL history (36 points). Yet, led by 2005 Supa8 Player of the Tournament Siyabonga Nkosi, Celtic had other ideas. Rotson Kilambe scored the only goal for Celtic’s maiden Top8 title, and their first trophy in 20 years. 1-0.
2006 – SO NEAR, YET SO FAR AGAIN FOR MOSIMANE
In 2006, the pressure was starting to pile on ‘Jingles’ and Matsatsantsa. Not only had they built a bad reputation in cups (losing two out of two in the 2005/06 season). They had also finished 7th in the league, their lowest ever finish under Mosimane. The journey to the 2006 final wasn’t easy either, as they were drawn to face – Sundowns, Pirates and Chiefs, who had finished 1st, 2nd & 3rd the previous league season. Somehow SuperSport found a way through, including extra-time equalisers and penalty shootout victories. But Rotson Kilambe scored the winner against them again in the final, for Chiefs this time. Another 1-0 defeat.
2007 – END OF AN ERA
Mosimane left Supersport in May 2007, opening the door for Gavin Hunt. A fourth successive final was on the cards in 2007, but SuperSport, now coached by Gavin Hunt, lost the semifinal to Pirates in the last minutes of extra-time. Across town, Sundowns won the 2007 SAA Supa8 title in 2007, beating Pirates 1-0 in the final, for their first and only Top8 title in the PSL era.
This was the 4th successive Top8 final to end 1-0. But things would begin to change in the coming years, including a final that broke all the records. You can read this in Part 3 of our series.
By Opta Jabu