S'Busiso Mseleku

Benni's appointment opens door for SA coaches

2015-09-17 15:33
Sport24 columnist S'Busiso Mseleku (File)

If the Chinese proverb that a journey of a thousand miles starts but with one step is to be believed, Benni McCarthy's appointment as assistant coach at Belgian club Sint-Truiden VV (real Dutch name Sint-Truidense Voetbalvereniging), must be hailed as a massive positive blow for South African football.

His appointment might just prove to be a major step for the local game.

And it is so ironic that McCarthy - who was regarded as an enfant terrible during his playing days for his  unconventional and controversial ways - should be the one who paves the way.

Many a time, I have pointed out that the fact that we do not have South African coaches plying their trade in foreign countries, says a lot about how low the standard of our domestic soccer is.

This is except Shakes Mashaba and Mlungisi Ngubane who once had stints in Swaziland and Namibia, not giant football nations you will agree.

Well, despite his wayward ways, McCarthy was no slouch on the field of play. He has a lot to show for his exploits on the soccer field such as the fact that he still remains Bafana Bafana's - our nation soccer team - all-time leading  goal-scorer with 32 goals to his name and is the only South African player who boasts a Uefa Champions League medal.

Since hanging up his boots, McCarthy has been hard studying different football methodologies and last year wrote for a Uefa B Coaching Licence.

He has been in consultation with top European coaches including the all-conquering Portuguese  José Mário dos Santos Mourinho Félix  - popularly known as just José Mourinho - and has worked with different clubs such as Scotland's St Hibernian in his quest for coaching knowledge.

Even on his appearances on Supersport as a football analyst, he has not only shown great maturity but a deep understanding of the game of the pigskin.

After his appointment to this position where he is assisting Northern Irishman Chris O’Loughlin a former assistant at Orlando Pirates who also worked at SuperSport United while here in South Africa, McCarthy said: “ I have a lot of experience in international football and I’m happy to pass that on to the young players at St Truiden. Especially the players with a different cultural background. I know what it’s like as a youngster to play football in a foreign country."

Besides this I was highly impressed by his comment that:  “I want to understand my players on a personal level. That’s what helps coaches get positive results out of their players. Tactics always comes in later in game situations. As a coach you need a team that will play for you, otherwise you are doomed.”

He said these are some of the aspects of the game he has learned from Mourinho.

He has also shown ambition by saying he would like to contribute towards helping the club win the championship next season. They currently lie fourth after seven matches this season.

McCarthy's appointment comes at a time when South African Premier Soccer League clubs have shown an unprecedented belief in homegrown coaches. At the moment 13 out of the 16 clubs in the elite league are coached by locals, including the top three sides Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns.

Maybe, just maybe as the Chinese saying goes, McCarthy's appointment could prove to be that crucial first step to cover a thousand miles for South African football.

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.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.



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