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Al Ahly head coach Pitso Mosimane. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/EURASIA SPORT IMAGES
Al Ahly head coach Pitso Mosimane. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/EURASIA SPORT IMAGES

The New York Times has questioned why Al Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane was left off the Fifa shortlist for its coach of the year award for 2021 having won three international trophies in the period.

The story was headlined: “When two Champions Leagues titles in eight months don’t count”‚ and had 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 article questions why a coach who won the 2019-20 CAF Champions League final when Ahly beat Zamalek 2-1 in November 2020‚ defended that title beating Kaizer Chiefs 3-0 in the 2020-21 final in July 2021‚ plus two CAF Super Cups in 2021‚ continues to be overlooked for Fifa’s coaching award.

Mosimane also steered Ahly to third place at the Covid-19-delayed 2020 Fifa Club World Cup in Qatar in February 2021. The article notes that such an achievement is more notable given African teams come from a lesser-resourced background than their counterparts in Europe and South America.

“That it is the third place‚ not the string of firsts — two Champions Leagues accompanied by two African Super Cups — that Mosimane lingers on is instructive. It is a reminder that silver and gold are not the only measure of glory in management; achievement is necessarily relative to opportunity.

“Mosimane‚ by that gauge‚ has enjoyed a year that holds up in comparison to any of his peers. He has not‚ though‚ been granted the same recognition. When Fifa published its seven-member shortlist for its men’s coach of the year award a few weeks ago‚ Mosimane — 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 pattern held for the women’s prize too. Bev Priestman led Canada to an improbable Olympic gold in Tokyo‚ but she did not make the final cut‚ overlooked in favour 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 quarterfinals of the Olympics‚ then left to take charge of England.

“The link‚ instead‚ is that they all work in Europe.”

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