Pitso wary of politics around Nigeria job but says ‘that team is unbelievable’

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JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 17: Pitso Mosimane during the Pitso Mosimane Soccer Schools media launch at The Maslow Hotel Sandton on June 17, 2023 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)

Pitso Mosimane would be excited by the prospect of coaching a Nigeria team that has world-class stars, but is wary of the notorious politics that accompany the Super Eagles job.

Mosimane said he would love to take charge of one of the nine, and potentially 10, African teams going to the first 48-team World Cup in Mexico, Canada and the US in 2026, and he dreams of winning an Africa Cup of Nations.

The former Bafana Bafana, Mamelodi Sundowns and Al Ahly coach has been linked to the Nigeria national team job several times, including now as incumbent Jose Peseiro’s position has become fragile after a disastrous start to the 2026 World Cup qualifiers with draws against Lesotho and Zimbabwe. Nigeria are in group C with Bafana Bafana.

Mosimane was asked in a press conference with the South African Football Journalists’ Association (Safja) if he would fancy his chances taking an African team to the World Cup in the new qualification process.

“One thing I would say is, I want to win a Cup of Nations or got to a World Cup with a team,” the coach said.

“Because I speak to [Senegal coach] Aliou Cissé, to [Algeria coach] Walid [Regragui]. He says, ‘Coach, come, in a World Cup we need to see all these coaches — you, me, Aliou Cissé.

“[Regragui said], ‘The African voice should be in the World Cup. And we have more spaces in the next World Cup — there’s no way you cannot be part of that.’ I said, ‘We will see.’

“Because, to be honest, I still want to do a national team. I don’t choose what comes, but if you say, ‘Am I interested?’ I am interested.

“I would like to lead a team in the World Cup. Africa has nine places.

“But to have [wing Samuel] Chukwueze and the boy playing for Napoli [Victor Osimhen] as your striker — that Nigerian team is unbelievable.

“I saw they drew against Lesotho and Zimbabwe. It’s football, it can happen.

“I’m just saying, how can this politics between football and the government and the federation really derail you?

“I hope South Africa qualifies. But in reality I think Nigeria has the team.

“I would like to go to a national team. But it must be a good team that can compete in a World Cup and not embarrass ourselves.”

Mosimane suggested the complication with coaching a national team in Africa is the politics that accompanies the job due to the way cash-strapped federations are run and government involvement.

The Nigerian Football Federation notoriously failed to pay out the contract of former Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr, and Super Falcons coach Randy Waldrum said he had not been paid for seven months and some of his players for two years arriving at the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

“That’s a serious case about federations where the coach is employed in many places in Africa, outside South Africa, by the minister of sport, and they were the ones who pay for the coach, so they can employ him. I mean the federation doesn’t have money to pay the coach.

“The Nigerian federation doesn’t have money to pay for those coaches. And I think maybe with 99% of countries in Africa the government pays the coaches, so it’s not a problem.

“I remember speaking to [former Zambia and Ivory Coast and current France Women coach] Hervé Renard — good guy, we’d text and talk. He said, ‘Coach, why don’t you coach South Africa? The country has got mines, diamonds and everything?’

“I’m talking about, now, the situation of federation and country. And I said, ‘But you must go and coach Bafana — I think you would do well for our country.’

“He says, ‘Coach, they are not serious. One of my agents told me the money they want to pay is like club football in division two in France, or whatever.’

“He says, ‘Coach, your country is successful. They have everything. Look at the airport when we land there. They must pay me’.”

Mosimane left Al Wahda in United Arab Emirates this November after a four-month stint.

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