/ 16 September 2009

Zuma defends Bafana, wants Benni back

President Jacob Zuma has backed the current Bafana Bafana coaching regime and also says the ailing team needs Benni McCarthy back.

In a wide-ranging interview with SuperSport during the Friends of the President golf day in Johannesburg at the weekend, Zuma said that despite prevailing doom and gloom, the team had made progress.

”It’s my view as a soccer player that we are, to some degree, exaggerating our anxiety. Bafana Bafana … from where they were to where they are now, there’s been a marked and clear difference.

”They play a wonderful game and are able to hold powerful sides. I think they play very well.”

Zuma, who admitted that he now has little time for golf as ”it takes time forming a new government,” nonetheless watches sport whenever he can.

He said that to condemn Bafana was ”unfair”, but conceded that striking was an area that needed attention.

”That’s the only department to look at. The coach must focus on this and look for hungry strikers. That’s all that’s needed to solve [the failure to regularly score].

Assessing the team, he remarked: ”The boys can kick, which was a problem [before]. They can pass, have got stamina and commitment. The country must not condemn them.”

Wading into the controversial McCarthy issue, Zuma said the team needed his skill and influence.

”We need a player like McCarthy, not just because he’s a good goalscorer, but because he will give encouragement to young players and opponents will be unsettled.”

In a final plea to football supporters, Zuma said Bafana couldn’t afford to change coaches again for fear of undoing consistency. He said patience is what was most required with 2010 less than a year away.

The full 15-minute interview will be broadcast at 8pm on Thursday on SuperSport 4. — Sapa