Jomo Sono



Full name Ephraim Matsilela Sono
Date of birth 17 July 1955
Place of birth Johannesburg, South Africa
Playing position Midfielder / Forward


Years Team Apps (Gls)
1971-1977 Orlando Pirates  156  1080
1977 New York Cosmos 12 (1)
1978 Colorado Caribous 30 (8)
1979 Atlanta Chiefs 29 (5)
1980–1982 Toronto Blizzard 57 (22)


Dr. Ephraim Matsilela Sono (Affectionately known as Jomo Sono and sometimes also called the “Black Prince of South African Soccer” and “Bra J” “Mjomana” ) (born 17 July 1955) is the Head Coach and owner of South African soccer club, Jomo Cosmos Football Club. He is a legendary former Orlando Pirates star who also plied his trade in the European Leagues as well as in America and Canada in the 70s and 80s.

Early life and soccer career

Sono was born in the township of Orlando East in Soweto, near Johannesburg. When he was eight years old his father Eric “Scara” Bamuza Sono, who was a midfielder for the Orlando Pirates football team in the early 1960s, died as a result of a car crash. Soon after, his mother abandoned him. Consequently, Sono was left in the care of his ailing grandparents. As they were very poor, he had to resort to selling apples and peanuts at soccer games and train stations to clothe himself, buy food for his grandparents and pay school fees.

Sono’s soccer career had an unusual beginning; during a match that he attended, one of the Orlando Pirates’ regular players was absent and Sono was requested to stand in for him, and he excelled beyond all expectations. He soon gained fame for his all-round ability, dribbling and accurate passing skills.

It was during this time that he was given the nickname of Jomo (which means “Burning Spear”) by an Orlando Pirates fan, who saw in him the same leadership qualities as those of Jomo Kenyatta, the then president of Kenya.

After he had accomplished everything that he set out to do at Orlando Pirates, Sono went to the United States of America, where, in 1977, he played for the New York Cosmos, where one of his team-mates was the legendary Brazilian Pelé. In 1978, he moved to the Colorado Caribous. At the end of the season, the Caribous moved to become the Atlanta Chiefs where Sono played with another South African soccer star of the time, Kaizer Motaung. Sono completed his stint in North America playing for the Toronto Blizzard, playing three summers, 1980 through 1982.

Sono also taught and gave demonstrations at Clemson University Soccer Camp for youths.

Club owner and coach

After his soccer career in the USA ended, Sono returned to South Africa, where he purchased the Highlands Park club in Johannesburg in 1982, renaming it Jomo Cosmos in honour of his old team.

Under his ownership, the club went on to achieve several successes, winning the National Soccer League in 1987, the Bobsave Super Bowl in 1990, the Cola Cola Cup in 2002 and 2005, and the Super Eight trophy in 2003. Jomo Cosmos has also consistently finished among the top teams in the South African Premier Soccer League.

Sono has also taken a leading role in discovering and developing new football talent, especially from rural areas. Some of the players whom Sono recruited and then went on to play for the South African national team and European clubs include Philemon Masinga, Helman Mkhalele, Sizwe Motaung and Mark Fish. Indeed, his recruits formed the core of the South African squad that won the 1996 African Nations Cup; Sono was also a technical advisor to the team’s head coach Clive Barker during the tournament.

In 1998, Sono was appointed as caretaker coach of the Bafana Bafana just before the African Nations Cup tournament in Burkina Faso in the place of Clive Barker, who had been sacked just before the event. Under Sono, the team reached the final of the tournament, where they lost to Egypt. Taking the short time that he had to prepare with the team into account, it was considered a remarkable feat.

After a disappointing performance by the South African national squad during the 2002 African Nations Cup in Mali, Sono was again appointed a technical director to the team. However, the head coach of the team at that time, Carlos Queiróz, felt that his position was being undermined by this appointment and resigned. Sono was again appointed as caretaker coach, this time for the 2002 FIFA World Cup in South Korea and Japan.

Prior to the World Cup fiesta, Sono led the Bafana Bafana to win a Four-Nation Invitational tournament in Korea, beating Turkey in the final.

During the World Cup, the South African squad did not progress beyond the first round; however, they did score five goals and achieved one win, one draw and a 3–2 loss against pre-tournament favourites Spain. The South African captain, Lucas Radebe, credited Sono with much of the team’s performance, saying that he had instilled a good spirit within the team and that he had ensured a very positive atmosphere among the squad.

Sono is the longest-serving coach in the South African Premier League and also sits on the board of the Premier Soccer League. He has also built up a reputation as a successful businessman; in addition to making a substantial profit by developing players and selling them to European teams, he also owns a number of businesses and is a chairman of numerous companies.

On 22nd October, 2009, it was announced that he had returned to the South African Football Association, and one day later on 23 October 2009 he took the job as Technical Director.


  • • 1994: Won promotion to the South African Premier Division as Head Coach of Jomo Cosmos FC
    • 1996: He was Technical Advisor to South Africa’s Bafana Bafana when they won the Africa Cup of Nations.
    • 1997: He reached the quarter-finals of the Mandela Cup as head coach of Jomo Cosmos FC
    • 1998: He reached the final of the Africa Cup of Nations in Burkina Faso as Caretaker Coach of South Africa.
    • 1999: He coached Mandela All Stars vs World All Stars
    • 2002: He led South Africa to win 4-Nation tournament in Korea, beating Turkey in the final.
    • 2002: He was South Africa’s Caretaker Coach at the FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan
    • 2002: He won the Coca-Cola Cup as head coach of Jomo Cosmos FC.
    • 2003: He won the SAA Supa 8 Cup as Head Coach of Jomo Cosmos FC.
    • 2003: He reached quarter-finals of the Mandela Cup as Head Coach of Jomo Cosmos FC.
    • 2004: He reached the semi-finals of the high-profile King Al-Faisal Soccer Tournament in Saudi Arabia as head coach of Jomo Cosmos FC.
    • 2005: He won the Coca-Cola Cup as Head Coach of Jomo Cosmos FC.
    • 2006: He won the Chailanse Challenge Tournament in Gauteng as Head coach of Jomo Cosmos FC.
    • 2009: He won the National First Division (NFD) Championship, and gained promotion to the Premier Soccer League as Head Coach of Jomo Cosmos FC.
    • 2011: He won the National First Division (NFD) Championship, and gained promotion to the Premier Soccer League as Head Coach of Jomo Cosmos FC.
    • 2015: He won the National First Division (NFD) Play-offs, and gained promotion to the Premier Soccer League as Head Coach of Jomo Cosmos FC.
    • 2016: He won the 4-team Transversal Cup tournament in Mpumalanga, as Head Coach of Jomo Cosmos FC, beating University of Pretoria 1-0 in the final.
    • 2018: Led Jomo Cosmos to the NFD/PSL Play-offs by finishing 3rd in the NFD regular season.


• Jomo is the founder, Chairman and Head Coach of Jomo Cosmos FC.
• He has won every major title in South African Soccer as a player, coach and administrator.
• He was appointed Technical Advisor for the 2010 World Cup, which South Africa hosted.
• He was Chief Ambassador for South Africa’s 2010 FIFA World Cup bid campaign.
• He is a member of FIFA’s Technical Committee.
• He was voted 3rd best coach in Africa in 1998
• In 2000 he was voted South African Footballer of the Century by Radio Metro and Sowetan newspaper via a voting poll.
• He led Jomo Cosmos to win the Gauteng Champions Challenge tournament in 2003
• In 2004, he led Jomo Cosmos to win the Rjah Cup when they beat Kaizer Chiefs 1-0 in the final.
• He was voted 49th in the Top 100 Great South Africans in 2004
• Winner of Jack Cheethman Memorial Award for Outstanding Contributions to South African Soccer
• 2013: Johnnie Walker Lifetime Achievement Award.
• 2016: (December 15): He is awarded Honorary Doctorates by University of Dubai and University of London at a ceremony in Dubai, UAE.
• 2017: Special Recognition by City of Ekurhuleni for “Outstanding Contributions to Football.”
• 2018: Appointed Brand Ambassador by Ford South Africa.


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