WANTED: World-class coaches
Sport24 columnist S'Busiso Mseleku (File)
Does South Africa have world-class football coaches? This question is raised by the recent search and appointment of Gordon Igesund as Pitso Mosimane’s successor to coach Bafana Bafana.
The South African Football Association (SAFA) never came out and said what qualifications they were looking for in the man to guide the jewel in their crown to calmer waters.
Up to now, all we know is that what worked in Igesund’s favour is the fact that he has won four PSL titles with four different clubs and turned Moroka Swallows from relegation candidates to league title contenders in just two seasons.
Before his appointment, those against his candidature pointed out that he lacked international experience. A look across our coaching spectrum will show that not so many of our coaches have international experience.
This raises the question that if we have world-class coaches in South Africa, why have none of them been approached to coach say European clubs or nations?
One can count in one hand South African coaches who have crossed our borders to impart their knowledge in other countries such as Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba (Swaziland national team), Mlungisi “Professor” Ngubane (Namibian national team) and Grant Young who is coaching a club in New Zealand.
On the other hand, we have imported several coaches from the continent ranging from Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Our clubs, let alone national teams, struggle against their African opponents. Save for Orlando Pirates who won the then Africa Club Championship in 1995 and Kaizer Chiefs who won what was then known as the Nelson Mandela Cup in 2001, our clubs have struggled in these competitions.
Our Under-17s, Under-20s and Under-23s, rarely make waves on the continent.
So, where do our coaches gain international experience when they don’t pit their wits against their international peers regularly?
A lot has been said about how this country lacks quality players, but the question is: How can we have quality players if we don’t have quality coaches?
Coaches are like teachers, there is no way you can have straight A students without good teachers.
And having under-qualified coaches at international level, can easily expose them to ridicule from players who are plying their trade in big leagues overseas.
One such incident is said to have taken place when Benni McCarthy reportedly asked a coach how he (the coach) could give him (McCarthy) instructions when he earned less in a year than what the striker made in a month!
While this can be seen as ill-discipline, at the time, McCarthy had been trained by Jose Mourinho and had won the Champions League, which means he did have a point.
The same can be said about Steven Pienaar. After being under the tutelage of the likes of Harry Redknapp (at Spurs) and David Moyes (at Everton) and playing in the Champions League for Ajax Amsterdam, “Schillo” can easily look down upon a coach who has not had any international exposure.
This brings me to another point that has been harped on ad nauseam, and that is that we need a wholesome approach to development.
No sphere must be left lagging behind.
I am told that a few coaches in this country have a UEFA A coaching licence. These include Igesund, Zeca Marques, Gavin Hunt, Eric Tinkler and AmaTuks mentor Steve Barker.
There are just a sprinkling of coaches who go overseas every off-season for refresher courses with most relying on SAFA’s Level 1, 2 and 3 certificates.
Football is developing rapidly and I find it puzzling that SAFA has still not established exchange coaching programmes with Spain, the new Brazil of football. Such exchanges would vastly help our coaches keep up with modern football trends.
But for a country that still does not have a uniform playing format from juniors to seniors, years after having several technical directors, maybe this is asking for too much.
Without sending our coaches for advanced coaching courses in well-developed countries such as Spain, England, Germany, Holland and Brazil, we will continue rating our coaches by how many domestic leagues they have won.
It is time we started achieving internationally so that we move away from celebrating our only significant achievement, the 1996 African Cup of Nations, 16 years later.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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