Questions over why Fifa snubbed Al Ahly coach Mosimane in awards

The 'New York Times' also points out that there is a similar pattern when it comes to the women’s prize.

Al Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane celebrates the 3-0 victory against South African team, Kaizer Chiefs in the CAF final on Saturday, 17 July 2021. Picture: Twitter/ @AlAhlyEnglish

JOHANNESBURG - Fifa snubbed former Mamelodi Sundowns and current Al Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane when they left him out of the Fifa Best Men’s Coach 2021 award list.

Although Mosimane is, without question, one of the most successful soccer coaches in Africa - having dominated continental tournaments with Al Ahly - it seems Fifa does not think he is worthy of recognition.

At least that is what The New York Times alludes to in their article titled: When Two Champions Leagues Titles in Eight Months Don’t Count written by Rory Smith over the weekend.

Smith's story used the tagline: @Pitso Mosimane enjoyed a better 2021 than almost any coach in world soccer. Just don’t expect Fifa, or soccer, to notice".

The Best Fifa Football awards honours the best players and coaches in the world of football and are chosen by a panel of judges, journalists, players and fans.

The three finalists for the Fifa Best Men’s Coach in 2021 were Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola who is a Spaniard, Italy coach Roberto Mancini and Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel from Germany. Even the seven-member shortlist had no coach from Africa.

And the award went to Tuchel.

In less than two years at Al Ahly, the ex-Bafana Bafana tactician has snatched almost every trophy on offer.

This is why the New York Times questions why the coach - who won the 2019/2020 CAF Champions League final when Ahly beat Zamalek 2-1 in November 2020, defended that title beating Kaizer Chiefs 3-0 in the 2020/2021 final in July 2021, plus two CAF Super Cups in 2021 - continues to be overlooked for Fifa's coaching award.

"Pitso Mosimane has done enough winning in the last year, plus change, to talk about nothing else. In November 2020, only three months after he was appointed manager of the Egyptian club Al Ahly, he won the African Champions League title. He did so by beating Zamalek, Al Ahly’s fiercest rival. The final was cast as the derby of the century. Nobody in Egypt thought it was an exaggeration," the report stated.

Mosimane kept pushing forward with Cairo giants, the team reached the Fifa Club World Cup semi-finals before losing to Bayern Munich 2-0; claiming a bronze medal for Africa after beating Brazil’s Palmeiras in a penalty shoot-out.

"Eight months later, he repeated the trick. The calendar contracted and concentrated by the pandemic, Al Ahly returned to the Champions League final in July to face Kaizer Chiefs, the team Mosimane had supported as a child in South Africa. He won again. He was showered with golden ticker tape on the field, then presented with bouquets of roses by government grandees when he returned to Cairo," the article continued.

Yet when Fifa published its seven-member shortlist for its men’s coach of the year award a few weeks ago, the South African who had lifted three continental honours in 2021 was not on it.

"He was not the only notable omission. Abel Ferreira was not there either, despite going one better than Mosimane and leading Palmeiras to two Copa Libertadores titles in the same calendar year. He did not make the top seven, let alone the top three. Those spots were taken by Thomas Tuchel, Pep Guardiola and Roberto Mancini."

The article and interview with Mosimane takes a look at the Eurocentric nature of Fifa's awards and the challenges that face black African coaches getting jobs at clubs in Europe and globally.

The New York Times also points out that there is a similar pattern when it comes to the women’s prize.

"Bev Priestman led Canada to an improbable Olympic gold in Tokyo, but she did not make the final cut, overlooked in favor of Lluís Cortés, Emma Hayes and Sarina Wiegman.

"The connection is not that all of these coaches won major honours: Cortés might have led Barcelona Femení to an emphatic treble and Hayes might have won the Women’s Super League, but Wiegman saw her Dutch team knocked out in the quarter-finals of the Olympics, then left to take charge of England. The link, instead, is that they all work in Europe."

This exclusion had many questioning the fairness of the awards and sparked outrage on social media, Mosimane was also not impressed with being left out and commented in a tweet on why he wasn't selected.

"Unfortunately, we're from the wrong continent. Have given up on Europe. If Sadio Mane, Mohammed Salah etc can win the UEFA Champs League, EPL & Fifa Club World Cup and still not win any world or European awards, who are we? Samuel Etoo & Rahid Sterling objected & voiced out, but who cares?" Tweeted Mosimane.

Mosimane moved to Al Ahly from his stint at Mamelodi Sundowns in South Africa where he won 11 major trophies, including the CAF Champions League.