Pitso Mosimane was unveiled as the new coach of Egypt's football champions Ahly on Saturday. The South African said he is familiar with the Cairo Giants, promising club fans victories.
“I would like to thank head of Ahly’s planning committee Mohsen Saleh and club president Mahmoud El-Khatib for their confidence in me to take the charge of Ahly; the club of the century in Africa,” Mosimane said in a press conference at the club.
“I came here after facing Ahly in various previous confrontations. It is a big club and I watched its playing style in Egypt and South Africa.
“We are a family as I am familiar with the club. I am happy here and I will do my best to achieve victories to please the fans,” he added.
On Thursday, Mosimane took over at Ahly for two years after resigning from his post as the coach of Mamelodi Sundowns, whom he led to five South African league titles and a Champions League crown in eight years.
Ahly's move for the 56-year-old took many by surprise, given their traditional preference to bring in European coaches.
Mosimane takes over from Swiss Rene Weiler, who turned down Ahly's offer to stay until the end of their African Champions League campaign, saying the club had declined to give him time to discuss his future with his family back home.
Support from home
On Saturday, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa praised the recent appointment of Mosimane as coach of Egypt’s champions Ahly, describing the step as a demonstration of African unity and wishing him good luck.
“It wasn’t easy to depart Sundowns and come to Ahly after spending eight years there. This reflects the value of Ahly; the club that is highly appreciated in the entire continent. My presence here reflects the message of South Africa’s president about me,” the coach explained.
“Sundowns' president was happy with my departure to Ahly and fans accompanied me to the airport after securing an exceptional season with the team (winning the domestic trio league, Cup and Super Cup titles). The positive thing is taking the charge of big club Ahly and I know well the responsibility that will be on my shoulders,” he added.
Mosimane cleverly guided Sundowns during his eight-year stint to win both the domestic League and Cup titles, before winning the African Champions league and African Super Cup titles.
Limited time, unlike Weiler's
Under Weiler, the Red Devils romped to a fifth consecutive Egyptian Premier League title and reached the last four of the Champions League, the competition they crave much.
Ahly had not won Africa's blue-riband competition since 2013, losing two successive finals in 2017 and 2018. They face Morocco's Wydad in a mouthwatering two-legged semifinal later this month.
Mosimane spoke about Ahly's preparations for Wydad test amid the limited time before the game and the different chances, unlike his succssor Weiler who remained almost one year in charge.
“I know the pressure on Egyptian clubs in continental tournaments. I watched that while facing Ahly, Zamalek and also Egypt’s national team. Winning is always a must for fans and I am familiar with these pressures,” said Mosimane.
“I am lucky, as I was deploying the same strategy 4-2-3-1 with Sundowns. We won’t change the playing strategy for the time being because we don’t have enough time like previous coach Rene Weiler.
“We have a close target, the Champions league, and all my concentration is on preparing for Wydad match, so it will be difficult to change the style or the regular line-up.
“I don’t know how Ahly won the league title and who played more, so the next league matches will be a chance to know the team. I will seek the help of my assistant coach, who worked with Weiler, to help me to know everything about the players.
“I have the support of club president El-Khatib, football director Sayed Abdel-Hafez and marketing and football contracts director Amir Tawfik who offered all facilities to come here. Players know me well as we met in matches before and they gave me a warm welcome," he concluded.
Mosimane will make his debut when Ahly meet Arab Contractors in the Egyptian League on Sunday.
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