The next Bafana coach must...
Sport24 columnist S'Busiso Mseleku (File)
Now that the South African Football Association (SAFA) has shown their hand with the shortlist of Gordon Igesund and Steve Komphela for the Bafana Bafana coaching job, it's time to move forward.
Almost everybody agrees that it has become crystal clear where SAFA are headed. They are expected to talk (if they haven’t done so already) to the pair and try to have them to work together as head and assistant coach.
That would be a good idea, but only of Komphela is prepared to continue in his current role of being second in command.
SAFA, through CEO Robin Petersen, have also said that the new coach will not get the exorbitant salary of R800 000 per month that Pitso Mosimane was reportedly getting.
These two developments answer a few questions and provide a few pointers on the way forward.
For starters, SAFA must be commended for talking swift action in addressing the coaching crisis.
Their latest decisions also mean they have decided to stick with a local coach and that they have sobered up to the fact that paying coaches ballooned salaries, do not guarantee results.
It must be said though that their decision to stick with either Igesund or Komphela shows that they have decided to go for a short-term solution.
A long-term solution would have been to go for an experienced foreign coach with a proven record of not only taking a country to the Soccer World Cup, but also doing well at the tournament.
Now that Igesund and Komphela seem likely to be the incumbents, a few issues need to be addressed going forward.
The first decision that the SAFA bigwigs need to take is the mandate they are going to give to the coaches.
With South Africa hosting the next African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in January 2013, public expectations are quite high and all and sundry expect the country to do well. It will not be enough for the country just to participate.
Whoever is in charge of the team at the continental showpiece will be caught between a rock and a very hard place.
He will be taking a team that has failed to qualify for the last two AFCON finals in Gabon/Equatorial Guinea (earlier this year) and the one in Angola in 2010.
Prior to that, Bafana had been knocked out in the first round of the previous three versions Ghana (2008), Egypt 2006 and Tunisia (2004).
In fact, Egypt was a huge embarrassment as te team failed to score a single goal nor gain a single point.
What would make the coach’s task even tougher is the fact that the last time South Africa hosted the event in 1996, the country emerged as victors.
This will put a huge burden on the shoulders of the coach as the public will expect nothing less than seeing the trophy stay in Mzansi.
It is to be expected from the fickle sports fans as their memories would also have it that the last time the Springboks hosted the Rugby World Cup, they lifted the coveted Webb Ellis Cup.
Another option for SAFA would be to go the development route, where they just don’t put the enormous and sometimes unnecessary pressure on the new coach.
Allow him to take players from the SA Under-20 team that has just finished third behind Brazil and Argentina at the 8-Nations tournament recently played in Cape Town and blend them with the Under-23 team that narrowly-missed qualifying for the London Olympics.
With proper guidance and preparation based on a well-thought out programme, this team can easily grow into a formidable force that qualifies for the 2014 Brazil World Cup after getting a baptism of fire at next year’s AFCON.
This would also give the new coach a chance to dismantle the existing team that has a number of “tired and tested” prima donna's who feel they are owed a place in the national team.
It will also give the new coach a chance to address one of the consistent complaints, that being that the team selection has become exclusive rather than inclusive.
There are genuine complaints that the net is not cast as wide as it should be and as a result the team is dominated by Gauteng-based players while players from other Provinces hardly get a look-in.
This makes a mockery of the word “national” that comes before team. S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.
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