Champions League: Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane is torn by final against boyhood favourites

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Pitso MosimanePitso Mosimane is bidding to deny his home nation's Kaizer Chiefs from winning the African Champions League

Al Ahly's South African coach Pitso Mosimane admits that he is 'conflicted' about taking on Kaizer Chiefs, one of his home nation's biggest clubs, in Saturday's Champions League final.

The Cairo giants are hoping to win a record-stretching tenth title with Ahly while Chiefs are in the final, a one-off tie in neutral Morocco, for the first time.

"I'm playing against my home country, so I'm conflicted," said Mosimane, who led South Africa's national team between 2010-2012.

"Yes, I am patriotic but I must look after my family first. I must look after the people who pay my salary and allow [me to pay for] my children to go to school, so I have an obligation.

"When I'm here, I'm wearing two hats - a South African hat, but also an Egyptian hat. The Egyptian one comes first at this point in time, but when I'm back in South Africa it will be South African."

Distant childhood passions will also be playing on Mosimane's heartstrings as he bids for a third Champions League title as a coach.

"I grew up as a Chiefs fan," Mosimane told both BBC Sport Africa and the On The Whistleexternal-link podcast. "My uncles both played for Chiefs and Pirates, but during that time Chiefs were a bit more dominant."

Despite his affiliations, Mosimane has never played for nor coached his boyhood team (whose sole African title came when winning the now-defunct Cup Winners' Cup in 1991).

Instead, he delivered great success in South Africa with Chiefs' rivals Mamelodi Sundowns, who the former international guided to a maiden Champions League win in 2016 as well as five league titles.

Last year, Mosimane won a second Champions League with Al Ahly, who then impressed in December's Fifa Club World Cup when reaching the semi-finals.

Pitso Mosimane with the African Champions league trophy in 2016Pitso Mosimane with the African Champions league trophy in 2016

'Ahly needs the tenth'

Only Chiefs can now block Al Ahly's return to the Club World Cup, which the Egyptians hold in high esteem, even if Mosimane once had little expectation the Johannesburg side would make it so far.

"I never thought Chiefs would be in the final, I must tell the honest truth," the 56-year-old said.

"They didn't have a good season and whenever they were playing in the African Champions League, they were lying 12th," he said in reference to the club's league form in South Africa.

Chiefs eventually finished eighth in the league, so sparking the dismissal of coach Gavin Hunt last month and the return of another former Bafana Bafana coach, Stuart Baxter, for a second spell at the club.

"As a coach, I feel sorry for him," said Mosimane of his old adversary Hunt. "I mean, why don't you let the guy finish the final?"

Only two South African teams have ever conquered the continent - Chief's great rivals Orlando Pirates in 1996 and, of course, Sundowns - but Ahly, unbeaten in their last 11 games, are also chasing their own history.

"Al Ahly needs the tenth one - everybody's speaking about 'Al aashir', which is 'the tenth' in Arabic," says Mosimane.

"I want to be part of history, to have contributed to the tenth star of Al Ahly, so this is very important for us and very important for me, my family and the 70 million people who support Al Ahly."

Perhaps perversely, Mosimane is buoyed by the fact that another South African, his 'lucky charm', will be at the game.

Al Ahly lift the African Champions League trophyAl Ahly lift the African Champions League trophy

"The president of the Confederation of African Football, Patrice Motsepe, my former boss, is my lucky charm," joked Mosimane.

Having worked with former Sundowns chairman Motsepe for eight trophy-filled years, Mosimane says the success has continued when the pair have been at matches together ever since.

"When he came to Zamalek-Al Ahly (last year), we won. When he came to the [Club] World Cup, we won bronze. And, when he came to Qatar last month, he handed us the African Super Cup."

"So he must just keep consistent and keep coming!"

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