Johannesburg - Pitso Mosimane can attest to the saying that it is hard enough to win, even harder to retain.
On previous occasions Mosimane has led Mamelodi Sundowns to the league championship but he has failed to defend the titles.
The mentor failed to defend the title he won in 2013/14, which went to Kaizer Chiefs at the end of the season. But he wrestled it back from Stuart Baxter when he won in the 2014/15 season. Then he lost it to Gavin Hunt’s Bidvest Wits at the end of last season.
Now, after winning his third title – Downs’ eighth one – Mosimane wants to change this unwanted record.
And he is going for it.
After winning three league championships, the Nedbank Cup, Telkom Knockout, and continental titles CAF Champions League and CAF Super Cup, one might have expected Mosimane to lose his appetite. Not Jingles!
“Who am I to say I have won everything?” asked Mosimane this week. “Look at the Mourinhos [José], Peps [Guardiola] and [Alex] Fergusons of this world. These guys have won a lot of trophies and still want more. For me to say there’s nothing more for me would be arrogant. I have to try to win more titles and leave a long-lasting legacy.”
The 53-year-old says he wants to create his own history in South African football and be the longest-serving coach in the league.
“But for that to happen I must keep on winning, neh. If not I must leave the team on a high and make it difficult for the next person who is going to fill my shoes. What drives me is to raise the bar higher every season.”
Mosimane said coaching big clubs comes with its own challenges.
“If you are at Sundowns, [Kaizer] Chiefs, SuperSport [United], Bidvest [Wits] and [Orlando] Pirates you are expected to win the league because you have the capacity, material and resources. You can’t praise me for winning the league, it is expected of me.”
He said his target is to always qualify for the Champions League – meaning he has to either win the league title or finish as runner up.
“We must play in that space because that’s where the big fish are. We need to put our players on that window shopping and we have done that already. Where are Bongani [Zungu] and Keagan [Dolly]? What will happen to Khama [Billiat] and Percy [Tau] now? It is because they have been there and were exposed to the entire world.”
He said his biggest challenge has been losing some of his key players.
“Every time I build a team they come and take them. We have to recruit every season because now the hawks are watching and taking our players. But it is the nature of the game.”
Mosimane dismissed suggestions that the club always stands in the players’ way when they want to move.
He said all they were doing was to make it difficult for the players to move by offering better packages.
“We are trying to build millionaires but how you spend it is your own issue. Remember we come from different backgrounds. We change lives at Sundowns because there is no player who does not sign a contract of less than a million, unless of course they come from development.”
Mosimane has already resigned himself to losing Billiat, who has refused to renew his contract. He has also hinted that Tau could also go.
“Probably it is the right time for him to go now. He works hard, has a right attitude, good on the ball and very influential. The only aspect of his game he needs to improve on is his conversion ratio. If he can get that right, he will be world class.”
Mosimane also had a special mention for his supporters. “Maybe they are the reason we won the league. They have really stood by us and encouraged us all the way. We have now embraced each other and the players are no longer afraid to play. When you lose and you hear them encouraging you, you keep on going and this has been the difference.”
He said he knew the title was in the bag after going six points clear at the top. “With a six points lead and a massive goal difference, I knew it was in the bag.”
But he is still trying to get the right formula to retain the title.