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Get The Basics Right

According to reliable Siyagobhoza crew sources, SAFA’s technical committee has shortlisted three names for the vacant Bafana Bafana head coaching position, following the parting of ways with coach Molefi Ntseki last month.

Ntseki was shown the door after failing to qualify for the next Afcon to be staged in Cameroon next year. While SAFA had to act, one can’t help but feel our national team problems are bigger than just Ntseki. We can change coaches for as long as we want, but if we don’t get the basics right, we are doomed! There will be another coach to succeed Ntseki, but if the same problems still prevail, nothing is going to change – simple as that!  

It came as no surprise that coach Pitso Mosimane, Manqoba Mngqithi and Benni McCarthy’s names were mentioned as those who have been earmarked to take over the reins. Equally, it isn’t surprising that the Association is said to be looking to keep it local by appointing a son of the soil to take charge of our national team. It is about time we take pride in our own. Kudos to SAFA if that rumour of them keeping it local bears any truth to it. The top two coaches won’t come cheap and their respective teams won’t make it easy for SAFA because of the quality they possess. 

What will come as a surprise, though, is the fact that the shortlist was done before the appointment of a new Technical Director, a post that has been advertised by the mother body as they look to fill the position that was vacated by former Bafana captain Neil Tovey in June last year. If our sources’ story is anything to go by, this is pretty much akin to putting the cart before the horse! The appointment of the new coach should form part of the duties that have to be overseen by the TD and therefore it would be wise to first fill that vacant post before talking about the shortlist of potential candidates to coach Bafana. The TD post was advertised and applications closed on Friday, with an announcement of the new commander-in-chief expected to be made soon. To think it has been almost a whole year without a Technical Director is both unbelievable and unfortunate. This is a very important position that goes a long way in mapping the way forward and future of our game. There is so much that still needs to be done in improving and aligning our game and operating without a TD is a recipe for disaster.      

A TD is responsible for ensuring that all coaching activities in the country, among other things, are in sync. Technical study groups to analyze trends and developments in football form part of this important role. All national team coaches have to use the same blueprint and philosophy, with the influence of the TD at the forefront. So how do you appoint a new coach without a TD? Surely SAFA leadership will be mindful of this simple but important logic. Yes, we still have our technical committee, but without a TD, we can’t operate seamlessly. We’ve got to tick all our boxes and make sure that we get the basics right. Once the foundation is solid, great things can start happening and we might just surprise even ourselves. 

If I were to be pressed for views on the three ‘shortlisted’ coaches, my money would be on Mosimane and Mngqithi simply because of their vast experience and top man-management skills. I’d leave Benni out to continue with his great work at Usuthu so that he can fine-tune his coaching career while getting the much-needed experience. No one can argue about the impact the former Cape Town City mentor has had at AmaZulu FC since taking over from young and inexperienced Ayanda Dlamini. Such has been his great impact that Benni’s name has been mentioned in the same sentence as those of Mngqithi and Mosimane. However, one thinks it wouldn’t be wise to consider Benni for Bafana’s hot seat. Coaching a national team is completely different to club football, where you get to spend seven days a week with the players. There’s enough time to sell your philosophy to the players, whereas the national team coach doesn’t have such pleasure, as he has to deal with players from different leagues, philosophies and countries, for a short period of time in preparation for the game. Different egos and attitudes which, if left unchecked, can have disastrous ramifications. That’s where experience comes in and plays a major role.    

Carlos Quieroz and Phillip Troussier’s names have also been bandied about and we all know the history these two have with Bafana. However, I think they’ve had their time with our national team and if we are serious about restoring our pride, we shouldn’t even think of looking further than our locals, who will need no time to familiarize themselves with our national team. As long as our locals receive the same support and respect given to their light-skinned counterparts, they can definitely live up to expectations and even overachieve. Our Achilles heel has always been our attitude towards our own. 






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