Safa stands by coach Mosimane
The South African Football Association (Safa) says it will not allow emotions to cloud its judgment and will honour its contract with national coach Pitso Mosimane, which runs until the end of the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil.
On the eve of a crucial 2012 Africa Nations Cup qualifier against Sierra Leone at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, there have been growing calls for Safa to sack Mosimane should the team fail to qualify for the biennial tournament to be co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
“We feel it is an inopportune time to introduce debate and discussion about the coach, who has lost only three times in 15 matches.
“Instead, it should be a time for unity and support behind the coach,” said Safa vice chairman Danny Jordaan.
“Our view is that he should be given time to carry out his mandate until the 2014 World Cup,” said Jordaan. “He must be allowed to concentrate on securing the three points against Sierra Leone and not bother himself about what is happening in Cairo.”
Unfortunately, events in Cairo will keep the entire nation guessing, as the result of the other clash between Egypt and Niger in a simultaneous kickoff will indicate either qualification or failure for South Africa.
Niger leads both South Africa and Sierra Leone by a single point. This means that should Egypt fail to stop Niger, even if South Africa blasted half a dozen goals past Sierra Leone, it would be meaningless as the Mena of Niger would qualify ahead of South Africa.
Failing to qualify
It would be the second successive time that South Africa failed to qualify for the biennial tournament, after also failing to qualify for the 2010 event in Angola under the stewardship of Brazilian coach Joel Santana.
“This has been one of the toughest qualification campaigns in a very long time,” said Jordaan.
“And not only Cameroon but defending champions Egypt have been eliminated,” he said. “Nigeria is also in trouble unless they defeat Guinea at home.
“The point is that we must forget about minnows and big nations. The gap between countries has clearly been narrowed and previous African powerhouses are struggling to impose themselves as we witness the emergence of countries like Botswana and Uganda, for instance.”
“Crucially, we need to change our mindset.
“And, as much as failure to qualify will certainly set us back many years, the time has come for us to abandon our suicidal tendency of firing the coach before he has completed his mandate.
“One of the major reasons why we fail to progress as Africans is that even if a coach has qualified for a major tournament we still fire him regardless. And on the eve of a tournament we employ a new coach who, by the time he gets to know the names of his players, the tournament has ended.
“That is why we as Safa have no intention of getting rid of Mosimane.
“We strongly believe that he is doing a good job and laying a solid foundation for our football and that cannot be achieved overnight.”
Fortunately, Mosimane and his troops have not been distracted by the chatter on street corners, at bus terminals, taxi ranks and in shebeens, where some who have had one too many consider him a lousy coach.
Injuries to key players such as Kagisho Dikgacoi, Tshepo Masilela and captain Steven Pienaar mean the approach will change slightly, with Mamelodi Sundowns left back Punch Masenamela likely to be handed his cap in a senior jersey.
When the two sides met in the 2010 Fifa World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations, Sierra Leone snatched four of the six points at stake and they fancy their chances of repeating that feat, which should make them dangerous foes.
Following the forced retirement of Mohamed Kallon, the man who will pose a serious threat to South Africa’s qualification ambitions is Mohamed Bangura, who earns his living in Sweden, which means Morgan Gould, Eric Mathoho, Siya Sangweni and Bongani Khumalo will have to earn their stripes on Saturday as they battle to keep him quiet.
Yet there is no doubt that failing to qualify for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations would be disastrous for South Africa in more ways than one. The South African Premier Soccer League is rated the seventh most commercially successful in the world and the national team needs to reflect this on the continent.
Failure to qualify will cast serious doubt on the true strength of the PSL, from which Mosimane selects the majority of his players. Critics will see the league as all bling and glamour and without substance.