SAFA still want Komphela
Johannesburg - Finishing second in sporting parlance is often construed as no better than finishing last.
Not so in the case of Steve Komphela, who was edged out by Gordon Igesund for the position of of Bafana Bafana coach over the week-end.
And SAFA president Kirsten Nematandani on Monday emphasised the point when he revealed that South African soccer's controlling body still wanted to utilise the services of the Free State Stars coach, who was filling in as a part-time assistant to Pitso Mosimane before the Bafana coach was fired.
"It might not be in the role of an assistant to Igesund," said Nematandani, "because that will depend a great deal on how Igesund decides to re-construct his new technical staff.
"But whatever the situation in this respect," added the SAFA president, "We have the highest regard for Komphela's ability and would like to make use of his varied talents in some way or another at national level.
"We have big plans for him for right now - as well as for the future." Not so, it seems, is SAFA's less sympathetic attitude to Brazilian-born Jairo Leal, the long-time assistant coach of Bafana while both fellow-Brazilian Carlos Alberto Parreira and Mosimane were at the helm.
"There again," said Nematandani, "a lot will depend on how the new Bafana coach puts together his technical team." Sources within SAFA, however, have confirmed that Leal might well be on the way out - as much for finacial reasons as anything else.
His lucrative contract as Parreira's assistant was negotiated on the basis that it was inclusive of Soccer World Cup duty - and with SAFA laying out a hefty R1.8-million a month as Parreira's remuneration, Leal scored handsomely enough as well with a R550 000 monthly payout.
A more realistic SAFA have now tightened their purse strings and the ironic situation could exist if Leal stays on as the Bafana assistant coach whereby he could be earning more than head coach Igesund.
Igesund meanwhile has been mandated to guide Bafana into the semi-finals of next year's South African-staged African Nations Cup and ensure qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
"We know Bafana have their backs to the wall," said Nematandani, "with a shaky start to the World Cup qualifying campaign. But we have confidence in Igesund inspiring a turnaround."
The SAFA president said the reality of the tricky course facing Bafana in the World Cup qualifiers was emphasised over the week-end when the Central African Republic, who are in the same initial qualifying segment as South Africa, eliminated Egypt in a qualifying encounter for next year's African Nations Cup.
South Africa have already drawn World Cup qualifying games againt Ethopia and Botswana and with the Central African Republic flexing their muscles," said Nematandani, "it has become clear there will be no easy course making progress into the final World Cup qualifying round."