Bafana Bafana

Wanted: a coach to take SA to Russia

2017-01-15 06:08
Shakes Mashaba. (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - According to Safa, Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba is history and they will kick-start the search for his replacement this week.

This is despite Mashaba’s legal representative, Claudio Bollo, having said they would ask the process to be halted until the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration has heard their case. Mashaba wants to be reinstated as Bafana coach.

However, Safa issued a statement a few days ago saying they would convene a meeting for their technical committee to begin the search for a new coach.

Safa president Danny Jordaan, who is on CAF duty in Gabon, will address the coaching matter with chief executive Dennis Mumble and the technical committee.

“The meeting will develop proposed principles of engagement for a new head coach, including defining an updated mandate and other requirements for presentation to the Safa national executive committee,” read part of the statement.

Strange things do happen in football and Mashaba could be back in the hot seat, if his appeal is successful, before Safa’s search begins.

Who fits the bill?

Working relationship

For the next mentor to be successful, there has to be a better working relationship between the clubs and the national team. The issue of club versus country keeps rearing its ugly head because of strained relations between national team coaches and club mentors. Safa needs to establish a coaching forum where they can ensure the coaches share the same vision. This will avoid off-form players and those injured being called to the national team and even players being played out of position.

Two-pronged mission

After this week’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) draw, the new Bafana coach will have a two-pronged mission: to qualify for the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia and to book a place at the Cameroon tournament in 2019.

Bafana failed to go to the ongoing Afcon in Gabon and the previous World Cup in Brazil in 2014. But they are in pole position to secure their place in Russia.

With Bafana’s next crucial matches only five and seven months away – the Afcon qualifier against Nigeria in June and a World Cup qualifier against Cape Verde in August – Safa has the luxury of time to do a thorough job and to get the best man for the job.

Qualification for the Russia event is a serious possibility as Bafana are currently on top of their World Cup group.

Safa has already said they would look for someone who is “familiar with African football competition who will be expected to continue the quest to qualify for the world’s apex football”.

After Bafana were once again pitted against their nemesis on the continent – Nigeria – whom they are yet to beat in an official game, Safa should go for a coach who can finally break the west Africans’ stronghold on Bafana.

With only group winners guaranteed a place in the finals in Cameroon, Bafana would have to finish ahead of the Super Eagles, who have not qualified for three consecutive tournaments since winning the 2013 event.

Under Mashaba, Bafana managed to pip them to the top of their 2015 qualifying group and qualified for the Equatorial Guinea sojourn.

But the west Africans have been on the up recently, winning their opening World Cup qualifiers over Zambia and Algeria.

Break the bank

Whether a local or foreign coach, Safa needs to break the bank, if needs be, to get the best man for the job and money should not be a hindrance. To get the best, they must be prepared to pay, as the best do not come cheap.

If we go with a foreign coach, we must get a strong local assistant who is not going to be a ball boy, but will have a meaningful impact.

After all, the nation wants to see their favourite team in Russia and Cameroon.

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