Sono on his products Mosimane and Zwane facing off in the Champions League final: 'It started at Cosmos​'

14 July 2021 - 07:00
Jomo Sono, owner and coach of Jomo Cosmos, during a Nedbank Cup press conference at the PSL headquarters in Parktown. File Photo
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images Jomo Sono, owner and coach of Jomo Cosmos, during a Nedbank Cup press conference at the PSL headquarters in Parktown. File Photo

Jomo Sono has said it makes him “proud and humble” to see two products of Jomo Cosmos take charge of the two teams in a Caf Champions League final.

The SA footballing legend and Orlando Pirates great admitted he would have conflicting allegiances when Pitso Mosimane leads Al Ahly in the July 17 final at Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca, with another Cosmos product, Arthur Zwane, set to be on the bench for Chiefs.

As Amakhosi left for their historic first Champions League final on Wednesday new head coach Stuart Baxter’s work permit situation appeared not to have been updated, and Zwane was set to be calling the shots from the bench with co-caretaker-coach Dillon Sheppard.

Even if Baxter’s work permit does come through at the last minute, Zwane’s influence in steering Chiefs through their dramatic 1-0 aggregate semifinal triumph over 2017 champions Wydad Athletic will go down in the record books.

Mosimane’s Ahly are defending their 2019-20 title, where he had replaced Swiss Rene Weiler form the semifinal stage. It would be the 1980s Cosmos product’s third title, having won the 2016 Champions League with Mamelodi Sundowns.

“It doesn’t get bigger than that, especially in Africa. And it makes us as the Cosmos family proud and humble to see two of our products as coaches qualifying to the highest final in Africa,” Sono said.

“We don’t want to take the glory, but in life it’s where you started. It started at Cosmos.

“Arthur Zwane we sent to Santos in Brazil. So he learned a trade, playing for Cosmos and watching how we do things, and then also overseas at Santos. Pitso also went overseas to Greece.

“They learned a lot. They came back strong human beings with different cultures in their football knowledge.

“And we feel very proud. We are saying, we might be in the second division [GladAfrica Championship] but Cosmos is a seed.

“It’s a seed that you throw in the desert – it takes time to grow but in the end when it does grow from a small tree it will end up in the final of the Africa Cup.”

Mosimane played three stints at first professional club Cosmos, from 1982 to 1984, in 1986 and in 1988, going on to turn out for Ionikos in Greece and in Qatar. Zwane was a stylish wing product who emerged at Cosmos in 1992, before a stint at Santos in 1996, also playing 10 years for Chiefs in an 18-year career. Both were intelligent footballers.

Sono admitted he would have divided loyalties for the final.

“As a South African, when it comes to football I would like Kaizer Chiefs to win. But when it comes to those two coaches I want both of them to win,” he said.

Sono has been renowned for grooming SA talent, with many of the Orlando Pirates 1995 Champions Cup-winning team having emerged at Cosmos, and also many of the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations-winning Bafana Bafana squad.

Mosimane, with his success at Sundowns and going strong nine months on since his bombshell move to Ahly, is earning a reputation as one of the leading coaches on the continent.

“There’s no comparison. Club coaches, he’s one of the best in Africa now,” Sono said.

Chiefs are the shock finalists of the 2020-21 Champions League having never previously reached a group stage.