Gerald Modabi knows Pitso Mosimane way too well!
His predictions about the man who gave him a professional football breakthrough have been as apt as biblical prophecies about the emergence of false prophets in the ‘last days’.
Modabi, who met Mosimane as a schoolboy many years ago, is rarely the type of guy journalists would approach for comment about the enigma that is Pitso Mosimane, yet he is the one man whose predictions about the Caf Champions League-winning coach have gone beyond the obvious.
Of course, when ‘Jingles’ dumped Mamelodi Sundowns to take arguably the hottest seat in African football the apparent prediction was that he would lead Al Ahly to the prestigious Champions League title. The league title was as good as a done deal and even a schoolboy with minimal football knowledge would have predicted the same.
But watching Mosimane on Soccer Africa on Thursday night brought back a prediction Modabi made in October just after news that his former boss was on his way to the ‘Club of the Century’.
“I know Pitso will win the league in Egypt and he will win the Champions League,” Modabi told FARPost. Well, that was foreseeable.
But, the one that blew my mind was the fact that Mosimane would be speaking Arabic in two months. From my few trips to north Africa, particularly Morocco, where they dominantly speak Arabic, I struggled to pick any words. My immediate reaction when Modabi made this claim was that it would take the man nothing less than a year to start speaking, at least, the common, everyday words.
The former SuperSport United central midfielder, Modabi, was at pains trying to convince me that Mosimane was overly driven and would soon speak the language.
“He’ll be speaking Arab in two months. The man is driven, the man is crazy. He has every necessary ingredient to succeed,” Modabi said at the time.
To my surprise, on Thursday night, the former Sundowns mentor boldly declared that his interpreter would have no job in exactly 10 months’ time. In fact, the interpreter’s job has been restricted to the dressing room where the six-time league winning coach has to elaborate on his instructions.
“I have an interpreter but I don’t think he will have a job in the next year or two,” he cheekily declared. “So I’ve learnt to understand important words on the pitch like move quickly, press, go, together. The terminology I need on the touchline.”
In essence, during a game, Mosimane is now able to direct his charges from the touchline without the involvement of the interpreter. Modabi recalled how he was fluent in Greek after the six years he spent in Athens, Greece with Ionikos Football Club.
Besides the touchline lingo, Mosimane, who still resides in a Cairo hotel, has learnt how to greet, and express gratitude in Arabic. “…Then learn to greet, then learn to say thank you because you must be humble. You learn the basics. Those are things you need to gather. When they speak, I can hear them,” he said as he laid out his grand plan that seems to be working.
The man means business in Egypt after becoming the first sub-Saharan coach to take charge of the nine-time African champions. After all, right from the embassy as he applied for his visa, it became apparent that there was a demand to guide Ahly to the Champions League. Arriving at the airport in Cairo and even at the hotel, it became apparent that Ahly’s multitude of fans wanted nothing less than continental glory.
“I’ve never prayed like that. I said, ‘God can I give Al Ahly the trophy’,” said the Kagiso-born coach. Not only did he want to guide the Red Devils to the African title, but he wanted to do it in style.
“I needed proper football, football that is easy on the eye. I like clean football. I don’t want football that’s tattered. People are paying to watch this game,” he added. And, that he did. It was done with such aplomb with pundits in Egypt acknowledging Ahly were now playing with panache and a flair they had previously witnessed from Abafana BeStyle – Sundowns.
“I’ve arrived in the Promised Land. I’m just blessed,” he acknowledged with all humility.
“If I’m dreaming, please don’t wake me up.”
Mosimane further disclosed that European champions Bayern Munich had written to Ahly congratulating him and the club for the achievement. The two clubs will square off in the FIFA World Club Cup in Qatar next year in February.
The former Bafana Bafana coach went on to reveal that there was an article in an Italian publication about his exploits in north Africa. Perhaps, Modabi’s next prediction could be imminent. “Pitso will coach in either Europe or one of the big national teams in Africa”.
Only time will tell!
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By Mthokozisi Dube