On this day, five years ago, Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane was declared a ‘persona non grata’ by the majority in the Yellow Nation, who wanted billionaire owner Patrice Motsepe to chop his head.
Mosimane, who had won the PSL championship for Sundowns the previous season, did not have a good start to the 2015/16 season with his side getting knocked out of the MTN8. In the league, Sundowns had managed four points out of a possible 15 following one win, one draw and three losses.
On September 23, 2015, Sundowns hosted Ajax Cape Town at Lucas Moripe Stadium, where some Sundowns supporters had already made up their minds that Mosimane had to be sacked.
During the match Sundowns had struggled and the score line was tied at 2-2 with goals from Teko Modise, the late Cecil Lolo (own goal), Bantu Mzwakali and Nathan Paulse. With 10 minutes to go, agitated and frustrated Sundowns fans started chanting “Pitso must go!” They also sang a song “Ka jeno ro koba Pitso (Now, we are going to fire Pitso)”.
Given Sundowns fans’ penchant for violence, it was a foregone conclusion that Mosimane would be relieved of his duties after the match headed for a draw. Journalists were preparing to write his obituary and Mosimane needed a miracle.
And it was Anthony Laffor to the rescue. At the stroke of full time, Laffor scored to rescue Sundowns and Mosimane, who raced to the touchline in celebration. The goal, which ensured Sundowns won the match 3-2, did enough to change the mindset of certain fans but there were those who continued to call for his dismissal.
After the match as Mosimane, flanked by some of his players and Sundowns security, made his way to the tunnel, insults and objects were hurled at him.
Mosimane, who was two and half years at the hot seat since taking over from Johan Neeskens, remained resilient and sought divine intervention.
“A coach can’t fight the supporters. He has to concentrate on the game and players. I react to fans on the other side that we went to. They were signing, clapping and calling my name on the other side. This side, I don’t react. I will leave it to God. What can I do? I found it like this by the way,” Mosimane told the media after the match.
Fast forward, five years later Mosimane is the most loved man at Sundowns having delivered massive trophies – 11 trophies in eight years. Mosimane is by far the most decorated coach in South Africa with five PSL titles and has won all the domestic trophies in the PSL.
Mosimane, who has countless personal accolades, is also respected on the African continent where he ranks among the best. In 2016 he was named CAF Coach of the Year after leading Sundowns to CAF Champions League glory.
For most Sundowns fans, the man from Kagiso is the best they have had. Almost daily on social media, Mosimane is subjected to love and admiration by those whose tears shed during a seven year drought, he wiped.
During matches Sundowns supporters sing songs exalting and appreciating Mosimane. Even Bloemfontein Celtic fans have expressed in song their admiration for the former SuperSport United coach. In Morocco, Wydad Cassablanca fans once sang and showed love to the man fondly known as Jingles at the end of the CAF Champions League clash.
From ‘we will kill Pitso’ to ‘we will kill for Pitso’, that’s how adored Mosimane is by Sundowns supporters. Thanks to trophies!
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By Hosea Ramphekwa