Newly appointed Al-Ahli Saudi head coach Pitso Mosimane has explained the decision to move to the Gulf region despite fielding a number of big offers for his services in recent months.
Mosimane says, together with his technical team, they have experience of turn-around projects, including serial DStv Premiership champions Mamelodi Sundowns and Al Ahly of Egypt.
Despite being one of the top four clubs in Saudi Arabia, Al-Ahli currently find themselves playing in the country’s second tier and are desperate to return to the top flight.
“When you have experience of really awakening sleeping giants and/or turning the tables around – because all the teams that I have coached, we have changed the status quo, we never arrived at a team where everything is right and they have everything,” said Mosimane.
“When we were in Egypt, we had to make sure that we turn the international program back because that was missing for a period of six or seven years, so we had to win the CAF Champions League and get back to the FIFA Club World Cup – that was exciting and we left a good footprint in that space.
“We gave MT Sports a mandate to say they must try and handpick the project that we think is challenging and also take us out of our comfort zone. And we looked at the league, we looked at the expectations, which is also making history for us while keeping our legacy in the Middle East.
“So, somewhere, somehow, you can coach a team in the Premier League that is, for example, sitting in position 12 and you go to position eight at the end of the season – ok, you are in the Pro League, but how big a difference can you make in that [job].
“So, we felt this one is a big club – it’s among the top four big clubs in Saudi – and the exciting thing, and perhaps also a little bit of a risk, is that we have to take the team back to the premier league. That’s our mandate, that’s why we’re going there.
“How beautiful would it be for the city of Jeddah, you must understand how big that city is – I think the second biggest if I’m not mistaken, to make history and get the people of Al Ahli back into the premier league. We felt it’s more challenging for us, and of course risk but a very good risk.”