SAFA, Where Is Our Coach?
Editor's Blog: SAFA, Where Is Our Coach?
The South African Football Association continues to play hide-and-seek as far as the appointment of the new Bafana Bafana coach is concerned.
“Who will be taking over from the sacked Shakes Mashaba?” is a question on everyone’s lips, but what’s the answer to the question?
Well, the Association hinted to have concluded a deal with Mashaba’s replacement and even rescheduled a pre-planned press conference because they wanted “the coach to be present” at the press conference for interviews. The implication here was that the next Bafana Bafana coach had been secured and therefore it was a case of a deal signed, sealed and delivered.
As it has come to be the norm, the day of the expected press conference came and went without any signs of a new Bafana coach. The same coach who was expected to be announced shortly after the Gabon 2017 AFCON early this year. Another own goal by our mother body. What has since happened is that Mashaba’s former assistant, Owen da Gama, has announced the squad that will be playing the next two international friendlies against Guinea-Bissau and Angola. The mother body conceded another own goal following the embarrassment of cancelling a scheduled press conference to “announce the coach”. The next appearance they made before the media was when Da Gama, the caretaker coach, had to do the honours of announcing the squad for the two friendlies that were aimed at allowing the new incumbent to familiarise himself with the senior national team.
Fast forward to date, we still don’t have a coach, let alone an explanation as to why the press conference never took place. One would think this is a matter of national interest and therefore would be expedited with the public kept updated.
With the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and 2019 AFCON qualifiers looming large, going into the two friendlies without a head coach might just came back to haunt South Africa. This is a lost opportunity to get the new coach to grips with the team, especially if we go for a foreign coach, as some members of the technical committee seem to suggest.
According to reports, the SAFA hierarchy is working around the clock to find Mashaba’s replacement, but why did SAFA schedule a press conference to announce a coach before securing the elusive signature first? Who dropped the ball here? A long list of candidates has been bandied about for months now, yet we can’t secure even just one of the more than six coaches linked with the Bafana job?
There have been rumours doing the rounds about one PSL coach who was, according to sources close to SAFA and the coach in question, earmarked for the job. Word has it that the said coach had emerged as the favourite to take over the hot seat, with the majority of the SAFA technical committee voting in his favour. The rumour mill further claims that contact was made with the coach and a brief discussion ensued – whether officially or not remains unclear. Those who made contact with the said head coach reached an agreement that the coach would take charge of the two friendlies and relinquish his PSL job at the end of the season in order to fully take charge of Bafana. According to these reliable sources, that arrangement was almost cast in stone, until the SAFA head honchos ‘overruled’ the technical committee on the basis that the said coach doesn’t have a proven track record in continental competitions. That was the end of the proposed move right there, according to the rumour mill.
Now let’s backtrack a bit... one of SAFA’s criteria for the vacant Bafana job is a proven track-record and understanding of African football. That’s a very important and fundamental prerequisite in the list, but why was Carlos Queiroz SAFA’s preferred candidate? Why did the Association even consider him if they’re serious about their own criteria? Where does he fit in to the criteria? Is coaching Bafana for two years, from 2000 to 2002 enough a track record to give him insight into continental football? With Herve Renard, we’re told he wants to bring a whole entourage and won’t come cheap, hence the deal also fell through. If the homework was done, surely this would’ve been discovered long before the initial discussions took place.
We are also told that SAFA are seriously trying to convince SuperSport United and former Bafana coach Stuart Baxter to answer to the association’s SOS. Again, if the criteria “International Coaching Experience, especially African competition with a minimum of 5 and 10 years” is to be taken into consideration, where does this leave coach Baxter? Do we honestly expect SuperSport to allow the Englishman who has transformed their club so much in such a short space of time to leave without a fight? Isn’t this another pie in the sky for our esteemed Association?
SAFA, hey SAFA, where is our coach?