/ 11 September 2008

Clive Barker takes aim at Safa

Bafana Bafana’s most successful coach, Clive Barker, has called on the South African Football Association (Safa) to set up a round-table meeting with former local-born national coaches as a matter of urgency.

Barker, who won the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations on home soil, is alarmed by the way Brazilian coach Joel Santana is wrecking the national side.

Said a worried Barker on Thursday: ”What Safa must do urgently is get all the local-born former Bafana coaches who had success with Bafana, such as myself, Trott Moloto, Shakes Mashaba and Jomo Sono, to a meeting to try to plan a way forward. We are going backwards with Santana. He is way out of his depth.”

Santana has come in for mounting criticism from fans and the media after winning only one of the seven matches in which he has been in charge. Santana was chosen by former Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira after the Brazilian World Cup-winner shocked the country by resigning in May owing to his wife’s ill health.

A senior Bafana player, on condition of anonymity, told the South African Press Association: ”The coach [Santana] always says we played well, even when we play badly, such as against Guinea on Tuesday night. There is no communication as he cannot speak English and we cannot work out what he wants and, worst of all, there is no motivation. We respected and liked Parreira and want him back.”

Barker went further: ”How on earth could Safa appoint a coach who cannot speak English. It is mind-boggling. What was Safa thinking? We have credible coaches in South Africa who can do a far better job.”

Barker known, as ”The Dog”, barked at Safa CEO Raymond Hack and laid much of the blame at his feet: ”I will tell Hack to his face when I see him that I am very disappointed in the way he is running Safa. By appointing Santana, who has no experience of international soccer, Safa are making Bafana a laughing stock. We need to stop the rot quickly. My solution is to get a body of former Bafana coaches to run the ship in the meantime. We all had some success, so we could not be that bad.”

Barker also questioned why Santana’s assistant, Pitso Mosimane, is not in charge of the national team. ”Pitso should be putting his hand up. He would do a better job than Santana. But does he want to be the big man or a number two for the rest of his career?”

Barker was axed in December 1997 after losing two games in his last 29. ”Why is Santana earning R1,5-million [a month] and getting protection from Safa for failing?”

The same goes for Ted Dumitru, who failed badly at the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt. South Africa did not score a goal or get a point at that tournament, and nothing was said. But successful coaches like Barker got sacked while Dumitru helped select his successor.

Barker said he led Bafana against leading soccer powers such as Brazil, Germany, the Czech Republic, England and Australia.

The two recent 1-0 losses against Nigeria and Guinea left Barker stunned.

”Our home stadiums were like fortresses … Now we are the whipping boys; we cannot even beat minnows like Sierra Leone at home. It has got to stop.”

Safa must swallow their pride, as Barker points out, ”before it is too late”. — Sapa