The great Bafana debate

Following the announcement on Monday that the South Football Association (Safa) had parted ways with Brazilian coach Joel Santana, the race is on to find a new coach to lead Bafana Bafana to the 2010 World Cup.

Former Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira has been widely tipped for a return to the post, and has already made it known that he is available for the job that he vacated last year to look after his ill wife.

The Mail & Guardian Online looks at some of the names being touted for the job:

Carlos Alberto Parreira
World Cup winner Parreira’s pedigree as a top-flight coach is beyond question—he led a gifted Brazilian side to football’s most coveted prize in 1994. His previous role with Bafana counts in his favour as it means there will not be a drastic shake-up, but his commitment is questionable after his sudden exit from the hot seat. Also, he was the man who recommended Santana as his successor, and we all saw how that worked out.
The experienced Parreira has the honour of guiding four different teams to the World Cup—Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Brazil (twice). He was, however, recently sacked as the director of football at Brazilian club Fluminese, barely six months into the job.

Verdict: Parreira is likely to be appointed Bafana’s new coach when Safa makes an announcement on Friday.

Pitso Mosimane
Regarded as one of South Africa’s most talented home-grown coaches, Mosimane was roped in to the Bafana technical team with the view of grooming him as a long-term successor to Parreira. He has an impressive record as a club coach, having led SuperSport United to five consecutive domestic cup finals, winning two of them. But his detractors point to the fact that he was not able to win the league title while at the club. He is lauded for his eye for talent, but his association with the bizarre team selections during his time as Santana’s assistant could count against him taking over the hot seat.

Verdict: One for the future, but unlikely Safa will put its faith in Mosimane to take the helm on his own with the World Cup just months away.

Gordon Igesund
Igesund holds the distinction of being the only coach to guide four different PSL teams to the domestic league title. He first made his name when he led Manning Rangers to the inaugural PSL title in the 1996/97 season. He followed this up in the 2000/01 season with another title, this time with Soweto giants Orlando Pirates, before going on to win the title with Santos and Mamelodi Sundowns. He is currently in charge at Maritzburg United, who have managed just two wins all season.

Verdict: He has often come under fire for his conservative style of play and this, coupled with his tendency to butt heads with officialdom—as seen during his time at Sundowns—may see him being overlooked for the job once again.

Gavin Hunt
Hunt has established himself as the golden boy of South African football in recent years by guiding SuperSport United to back-to-back league titles. He first caught the eye while coaching at Moroka Swallows, and has been honoured as coach of the season for the past two years. However, his lack of experience at international level could be the deciding factor against him. While he has guided SuperSport to domestic success, his failure to get them past the group stages of the African Champions League is a stain on his otherwise impressive record.

Verdict: Hunt will need a few more years of coaching under his belt before Safa can consider him to be up to the job of coaching the national team.

Jomo Sono
Hailed as the “Black Prince” of South African soccer, Sono has established himself as the go-to-guy for Safa when it sets off another round of musical chairs by firing a national coach. He was roped in as coach shortly before the 1998 Africa Cup of Nations and again just before the 2002 World Cup. At the 2002 World Cup Bafana failed to progress past the group stages, and while his supporters might suggest that this was a result of the short time he had with the side, his record as a club coach in recent years has not been too stellar either. Jomo Cosmos are back in the top flight this season after bouncing back from relegation, but are currently languishing rock-bottom of the league standings, having won just a single match this season.

Verdict: A favourite emergency appointment for the bigwigs at Safa, Sono was a great success as a player, but his record with the national side should exclude him from leading the team again.

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