/ 21 October 2009

I’m ready, says Pitso

While rumours continued to spread like wildfire on Wednesday that Safa have agreed on the return of runaway Carlos Alberto Parreira as their choice to replace Joel Santana as the Bafana Bafana coach, an equally strong backlash of tsunami proportions is spreading throughout the country over the pending appointment.

And, it would seem, if Safa are not to precipitate a similar, possibly worse division than that which marked the stormy reign of the amiable Santana, they could yet heed the popular demand for a local coach to be in ”the hot seat” for the 2010 World Cup.

Meanwhile, current joint Bafana interim coach Pitso Mosimane, who is filling this temporary position along with Brazilian Jairo Leal, proclaimed on Wednesday he was ”ready to do the job” if asked by Safa to fill the role.

And logically, Mosimane, with Leal as his assistant providing the Brazilian know-how, would be the most suitable appointment as a compromise between those who are adamant a South African should fill the vital, troubled role for the World Cup and those who are equally insistent there is no South African suitably equipped to handle the task.

Mosimane, indeed, filled the position of interim Bafana coach with distinction for more than a year prior to the arrival of the exorbitantly-priced Parreira for his initial, aborted stint as South Africa’s coach.

And, ironically, Mosimane’s record at the helm of Bafana is a good deal better than that of either Parreira or Santana.

Mosimane revealed in an interview shortly after the announcement of Santana’s departure earlier in the week that he had been given the impression by those at the helm of Safa that he was being groomed to take over as Bafana coach after the 2010 World Cup.

”And that has all along been my ambition,” he added, ”But if I would be helping my country to take over immediately, I am available for the challenge.

”On the other hand,” he added, ”if Safa are bent on appointing Carlos [Parreira] or someone else, I will remain totally dedicated in my role of assistant coach and will give 100 percent support and dedication to whoever is appointed.”

Mosimane said he had learnt a great deal from both Parreira and Santana during their spells with Bafana and they were coaches of undisputed experience and ability in handling many of the world’s great footballers.

”But this is a precarious business,” he added, ”and you are sometimes not the master of your own fate. I don’t want to go into the pros and cons of why Parreira and Santana left in their different ways and whom Safa should now earmark when they meet on Friday.”

In Mosimane’s favour as the successful candidate would be the fact that he has already done a commendable job as the Bafana coach — as well as with SuperSport United at PSL level — and he has a good deal more experience at international level than other local candidates like Gavin Hunt and Gordon Igesund.

He would, in addition, probably be paid a quarter of Parreira’s monthly package of R1,8-million — something which incensed most in a country where poverty is still widely prevalent.

Although Parreira was at the helm of Brazil when they won the World Cup in 1994, he has been on a downward spiral since being reappointed for the 2006 World Cup, when he was widely blamed for overwhelming favourites Brazil disappointingly bowing out at the quarterfinal stage.

And more recently he was fired by his Brazilian club after a string of failures in an environment where Santana had been highly successful.

But most pertinent, perhaps, is that a strong under-current of hostility exists among the South African public towards Parreira, who is viewed as having let down Bafana at a critical moment of preparation for the World Cup.

And, if he should return to South Africa, at what is viewed as his convenience, he could face this hostility head-on and start with one strike against him. — Sapa