Bafana Bafana

Bafana job a two-horse race

2014-07-25 12:03
Stephen Keshi (AFP)

Johannesburg - The bid for the vacant Bafana Bafana coaching position is believed to be a two-horse race which will be settled at the SA Football Association's (SAFA) headquarters in Johannesburg on Saturday.

Since the national soccer body's decision not to renew coach Gordon Igesund's contract beyond August, speculation about his replacement has centred on Carlos Queiroz and Stephen Keshi.

When Keshi's Nigeria met Queiroz's Iran in the opening Group-F game at this year's World Cup in Brazil, there was little to separate them. The contest ended in a goalless stalemate.

Many South Africans, however, looked on keenly and watched as Keshi and Queiroz battled it out for the first points of the group.

Both Keshi and Queiroz announced their departures from their national teams after exiting the tournament.

This sparked rumours and soon SAFA president Danny Jordaan was pressured into making a number of statements denying any deals had been struck.

A host of potential suitors, which at one point included Manchester United flop David Moyes, were short-listed ahead of Saturday's highly-anticipated announcement.

Four stand-out contenders remain, including Dutchman Frank Rijkaard and the only South African candidate Ephraim "Shakes" Mashaba.

Mashaba would be a welcome choice for many South Africans, who have bemoaned SAFA's lack of trust in South African expertise.

Mashaba, like Queiroz, enjoyed a successful spell with the national team and will take charge for a second time should he be picked. His role as coach of the South African under-20 and under-23 teams could prove to be his undoing.

SAFA is happy with the teams' progress under Mashaba and upsetting the junior structures is unlikely to be a decision the mother body will happily make.

Rijkaard remains the outsider and has received little or no attention regarding a proposed move to South Africa. The Dutchman rose to prominence while in charge of Spanish giants Barcelona between 2003 and 2008.

He has not taken charge of a major national team or club since he was dismissed as Saudi Arabia's coach after the Arab nation failed to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

The Iranian Football Federation has made repeated claims that Queiroz has been in talks to renew his contract with the Arab nation.

The technical committee tasked with making a recommendation narrowed down its list of candidates earlier this week.

Jordaan said Queiroz could be ruled out of the race due to his wage demands, which are believed to be more than four times what Igesund earned during his two-year stint.

Keshi, meanwhile, has been given the green light to start negotiating a new contract with the Nigerian Football Association (NFF). It was reportedly willing to bow to his demands and offer the former Nigerian international a lucrative new deal.

Thursday's claims that Keshi will hold talks with the NFF may have swung the momentum slightly towards Queiroz.

Whatever SAFA's decision on Saturday, the new Bafana mentor will have to hit the ground running as South Africa begin their campaign to qualify for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in less than two months.

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