My life is good right now, I live between Spain and Morocco. My family lives in Malaga, Spain and my children go to school there.
My relationship with South Africa started when the late Oscar Fullone was the head coach of Mamelodi Sundowns.
At the time I was in Ivory Coast at Asec Abidjan. I sent two players to Sundowns – Adama Outtara and Frank Guela. So, I was always in touch with the two players just to talk about how things were and life in general. I was also in touch with Oscar.
When Oscar left, he brought me and Angel Cappa to Sundowns. I was very excited about the opportunity to move to South Africa. Even my first child was born in Johannesburg. Right now, he doesn’t remember a lot about South Africa but hopefully one day we will go back.
Cappa did a great job at Sundowns but the problem was that he was not experienced enough to know about African players and their mentality. We had fantastic players like Peter Ndlovu, Surprise Moriri, Michael Manzini, Andre Arendse, Brian Baloyi, Vuyo Mere, Rafael Dudamel and Jose Torrealba whom I brought from South America.
Results were not so good and after a season, Cappa left the club and I knew what the team needed to be successful. Patrice Motsepe wanted a big-name coach; he was interested in Marcelo Bielsa. But he asked me and Neil Tovey to take over temporarily. But after we won two games, he asked us to take over permanently as co-coaches – we coached the team and won the league.
And I told Patrice that with these players, you will win titles for many years to come because they love to play attractive football and had a winning mentality. When I went to Platinum Stars later, I brought with me Godfrey Sapula, he was someone who coached inside the pitch and a very good player as well.
The season we won the league at Sundowns was perfect and I had a great time working with Neil Tovey and to this day we are still friends. He brought a good management style to the group and we supported each other. We both knew what we wanted to do.
When you are a foreign coach, you don’t know things like the culture and the players and Neil was fantastic with that. I have very nice memories from that season.
We improved the team spirit, winning mentality, how to be more aggressive in the last 25-meters of the field. The team played well under Cappa the season before but there was not enough balance. That was the problem and once we got the balance right things were good.
But it was not easy, we lost against Jomo Cosmos in the last few games of the season and when that happened, the doubts started coming inside the dressing room. We conceded an easy goal and a lot of people were upset that we lost at home. But we managed to win the league at the end.
The biggest challenge we had was to play the kind of football that we wanted – more compact and attacking football. For me, going to a football match is like going to the theatre or cinema, we have to give something to the people who pay the tickets and watching on TV.
It’s not only about passing the ball and pass it backwards. We had to be vertical sometimes and create chances. Create good movements from the back to the end and to put tactical on the field. But the most important thing is that we had a successful season