Bafana Bafana

Baptism of fire awaits new Bafana coach

2017-01-27 14:29
Will Carlos Queiroz again coach Bafana? (AFP)

Cape Town - Call it a baptism of fire - and, at the same time, point out with some justification the old adage that "only fools rush in where angels fear to tread."

So, whoever it might be, the new Bafana Bafana coach to be appointed when SAFA finally gets  down to the business of replacing the sacked Shakes Mashaba - if indeed pending court action and arbitrations confirm the dismissal - is going to face a herculean and unenviable baptism as he takes charge of South Africa's national soccer team.

More specifically, the first FIFA-recognised tournament fixture facing the brave newcomer at the helm of Bafana will be a 2019 away African Nations Cup qualifier against familiar old foes and nemesis, Nigeria.

And following up speedily on this daunting undertaking will be an away qualifier for next year's World Cup Finals in Russia - against the Cape Verde Islands - tricky opponents who would be under-estimated at Bafana's peril.

Victory in these two matches would make the new Bafana coach an instant national hero, who might even qualify for a lucrative monetary reward from loquacious Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula, who likes to make his own presence felt while recognising any South African sporting success.

Two defeats, however, would be calamitous for South African soccer and go a long way to destroying SAFA's credibility over the national controlling body's hazy "Vision 2022" dream.

A share of the spoils from the games against Nigeria and Cape Verde and the coach and SAFA's plan might just survive.

Meanwhile, with one Portuguese-orientated candidate for the Bafana coaching post seemingly out of the reckoning following Roger de Sa's decision to throw in his lot with Maritzburg United, another, more experienced and fascinating, has entered the mix since the sacking of Mashaba.

This follows in the wake of former Portugal and Bafana national coach and Manchester United assistant coach, Carlos Queiroz, tendering his resignation from his current role as coach of Iran.

The Iran FA, who clearly value the services of the coach who guided their team to the 2014 World Cup Finals in Brazil and has taken them a long way towards  repeating the process for the 2018 World Cup Finals in Russia, have refused to accept the resignation.

But this does not mean Queiroz cannot force the issue if he so wishes and now lingering in the background is the possibility of him taking on a second tenure with South Africa, whom he guided into the 2002 World Cup Finals in Japan and South Korea.

It remains uncertain whether the canny Queiroz is dicing on a tightrope of chance with the Iranians in the hope they will agree to his team-building plans for the 2018 World Cup - which have so far been placed on ice - or whether the world-travelled coach is indeed now more interested in returning to South Africa.

Iran's chances of making it to Russia for a second successive World Cup appearance would at this juncture seem a lot brighter than those of South Africa, but this has been off-set to some degree by Queiroz proclaiming that he would consider it an honour if SAFA - "or any other national association" - wanted to engage him.

And a potentially key and spicy factor that has emerged in the melting pot of possibilities is that Queiroz 's mother, daughter and grandchildren are all currently residing in South Africa - and this could ostensibly draw him back to the country.

Meanwhile, SAFA's plans for appointing a Bafana coach remain up in the air and the candidates mentioned number more than a dime a dozen.

Also complicating the issue is the legal matter that has been introduced by Mashaba since his dumping as the Bafana coach, with the next chapter in this respect a CCMA hearing that has been set down for February 7.

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