/ 19 October 2009

Time’s up for Joel Santana

Bafana Bafana soccer coach Joel Santana has vacated his position, the South African Football Association (Safa) announced on Monday.

According to a statement on Safa’s website, it was unanimously agreed between Safa and Santana that he would, with immediate effect, vacate his position as Bafana coach.

In the interim, it had been decided that Jairo Leal and Pitso Mosimane would assume the role of caretaker coaches.

”The president of the association, Mr Kirsten Nematandani, thanked Mr Santana for his efforts to date and wished him success in all his future ventures,” the statement read.

Santana’s future had been under a cloud following a string of poor performances by South Africa, with many calling for him to be sacked.

Last week, a defiant Santana dismissed calls for his head.

Speaking after the South African squad arrived at the OR Tambo International Airport following another two shocking defeats against Norway and lowly Iceland, Santana said he was hired to guide Bafana to the 2010 World Cup finals on home soil and that he was happy with the squad’s progress — despite losing the last eight of nine friendly matches played since June.

”I do not know of any national coach in the world who was fired because he lost friendly matches. I do not think I will be fired,” Santana said at the time.

Santana was South Africa’s 15th coach in as many years and in an 18-month spell he had 27 matches in charge, 14 of which were lost. There were 10 wins and three draws.

The removal of Santana could open the door for a return of compatriot Carlos Alberto Parreira, who had to resign in 2008 when his wife fell ill.