Tumo Mokone

It should have been Hunt!

2009-10-23 12:43
Tumo Mokone
Tumo Mokone

It isn’t remarkable that the general feeling about Joel Santana is “good riddance”? At the heart of the outcry across the country is the question why Santana was appointed in the first place. People want to know how an under-achiever like Santana was brought to this country at such huge expense.

This and many factors, including the fact that the Brazilian had no international experience, were raised in my columns which demanded the sacking of Santana.

My first argument for his firing was made ten months ago, and one can only imagine how much progress could have been made had he been let go then.

So am I celebrating Santana’s departure? The truth is I am scared for the immediate future of the national team. I did not hate Santana; he was just misplaced. I was merely calling for the correction of a mistake SAFA committed when they appointed him. I am anxious that SAFA will once again let the nation down.

Reports suggest that Carlos Alberto Parreira is the next coach. How can the same man who dumped Bafana 18 months ago, under the guise of rushing home to care of his ailing wife, be welcomed back so soon? Parreira’s parting shot for then bamboozled Molefi Oliphant-led SAFA executive was to recommend Joel Santana as his replacement.

Parreira is not a fool; it is his sincerity which I doubt.

Two wrongs do not make a right, SAFA should be warned. They erred with Santana and cannot fix their self-made mess by re-appointing Parreira. Parreira is not the right person, despite his esteemed credentials.

Four factors against Parreira:

1. The new SAFA executive is divided over him, with the group opposing his appointment warning against repeating costly mistakes of the previous leadership. Parreira appointment is at the behest of a dominant faction, which means he does not have the full backing of the association.

2. The soccer public is still angry at what they described as “betrayal” by Parreira. The local soccer fraternity is adamant the ill wife story was a smokescreen which Parreira used to justify his “money-grabbing” attitude. His second coming will therefore not be welcomed on the streets.

3.  Parreira or another foreign coach will not know South African players intimately enough to select the right squad. The team Parreira worked with does not exist anymore. Even his star player, Teko Modise, is not the player he used to be.

4. A local coach is best. The crucial area that needs special attention is the mind of the players. The greatest malady afflicting South African players is naïveté about the nitty-gritties of international football. We have coaches here who know how to work around this ignorance, and bring the best out of a player who is willing to work. Had Parreira been living in South Africa ever since he left Bafana, I would not mind him being given a second chance.

Gavin Hunt would have been my choice. He is a proven tactician who can produce miracles with unheralded players. Hunt forms a close a relationship with players he works with, and does not keep elements who break the team spirit.  Prima donnas like Teko Modise can expect to work their butts off to be in Hunt’s team because Gavin can easily go look for potential in the second division and make a star out of a country bumpkin in a very short space of time.

Hunt and his team SuperSport United are currently on track for a third consecutive PSL title. Those who saw a 10-man United give Orlando Pirates a basic lesson in tactics and strategy, before running out 3-0 victors, understand why Hunt – who lost his big stars from last season to bigger clubs – will guide his team to another league title.

For the assistant coach position I would pick Clive Barker for three crucial reasons: He is widely respected for winning the Africa Cup of Nations.  He is known to be the greatest motivator around. He would provide the experience that Hunt lacks at this level, and therefore help forge a balance, and a stability the technical team will need as we move forward.

Barker will also use his influence to bring the class of 1996 closer to the affairs of the national team. It is outrageous that even influential Bafana ex-captains like Neil Tovey and Lucas Radebe are not allowed near the national team.

I want to reiterate I am not against foreign coaches; it’s just too late to look outside for someone to fix the mess that our national team finds itself in right now. SAFA should have been bold and appointed Gavin Hunt ...

Tumo writes exclusively for Sport24

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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