/ 8 October 2009

Assessing Bafana’s assessors

Not everyone has been enamoured with the decision of the new South African Football Association (Safa) administration to appoint three assessors to stand in judgement of battling Bafana Bafana — with the suggestion that the assessors should, perhaps, have been called ”the executioners” in view of their make-up.

Safa communications manager Morio Sanyene has been at pains to emphasise that the decision taken by newly elected president Kirsten Nematandani and his executive — to approach SuperSport United coach Gavin Hunt, Jomo Cosmos owner and coach Jomo Sono and former Bafana and AmaZulu coach Clive Barker — was to analyse Bafana in totality and not only under-fire coach Joel Santana.

But the three gentlemen concerned have all been strong critics of Bafana’s Brazilian coach for one reason or another, and this pre-judgement therefore gives the impression that Safa might simply be employing Messrs Hunt, Sono and Barker to pull the noose and suffocate Santana’s diminishing hold on his job.

How much better, it has been suggested, if a more neutral and uncommitted point of view had been included.

In addition, questions have been raised about the make-up of the panel — should one have been thought necessary.

Sono’s club is wallowing at the bottom of the Absa Premiership, apparently with no idea of how to score. So how can he be expected to solve the problem of Bafana’s dearth of goals?

Barker, while still fondly remembered as being at the helm in 1996 when Bafana annexed the Africa Cup of Nations, was, at the start of the season, eased out of the role of coach of struggling AmaZulu and has, frankly, experienced little of note in recent years.

Santana, despite a lengthy career as a coach in the Brazilian national league, has been criticised for his lack of experience at international level. Hunt has no experience at international level either.

And Bidvest Wits University coach Roger de Sa, whose team is enjoying an impressive run in the Premier League, might have been a more logical choice for a number of reasons. He has played and coached at international level, and his fluency in Portuguese would have helped in communicating with Santana.

Notwithstanding this, the general view is that Santana’s head is on the line in the games against Norway on Saturday and Iceland next Tuesday — and who the executioners will be if matters go wrong is merely academic. — Sapa