Not good enough: New Bafana coach must face harsh truths

Former Bafana Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane. (Gallo)

Former Bafana Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane. (Gallo)

“We must be realistic. The right candidate has to utilise the talent we have and it’s no secret South African football is currently at a low point in its history. We are aware of these challenges and we will do our utmost to find someone to take us forward,” South African Football Association (Safa) CEO Robin Peterson told the Mail & Guardian.

Pitso Mosimane became the latest national coach to take a tumble after he was fired late on Monday following the national team’s dismal 1-1 draw against Ethiopia over the weekend.

The Ethiopians were Bafana’s first opposition in their campaign to qualify for the Fifa 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Mosimane became South Africa’s 11th coach in 12 years.
Assistant coach Steve Khompela has been appointed as interim manager for the next WC qualifier against Botswana in Gaborone, as well a friendly against Gabon on home soil, both of which take place later this month.

“We would like to have a new coach by September and the process is already under way to find a suitable replacement for Pitso,” Peterson said.

But finding a new coach is a challenge in itself. Bafana Bafana has failed to qualify for an internationally sanctioned tournament since the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Ghana.

The team has also failed to win a game in the past seven encounters with their last victory coming against Burkina Faso in August last year.

Ted Dumitru, a member of Safa’s technical committee – the body tasked with making recommendations on coaching appointments – said the next coach will be faced with a “huge list of problems.”

“It has becoming a habit that we look for a coach whenever there is a crisis and that is not helping our problems,” Dumitru said.

The footballing veteran, who was appointed Bafana caretaker coach in 2006 for the Afcon in Egypt, said there are currently no suitable replacements.

“We don’t have a coach that will be fully prepared to take up this position – that is a fact. Anyone who comes into this position will be faced with a precarious situation of trying to work with a squad that is substandard,” Dumitru said.

Dumitru said the current crop of senior international players are coming to the end of their careers and don’t offer much hope for the future. “Our top performers are veterans who aren’t getting any younger.

“They are only there because there is no one else. Not a single Bafana player has impressed internationally in the past three years,” he said.

Frontrunners to the job include Moroka Swallows coach Gordon Igesund and Supersport United coach Gavin Hunt.

With polished records and seven PSL titles between them, both arguably have the credentials to take the team forward.

Nonetheless, Dumitru said the man who will eventually take over can’t be expected to “work miracles”.

“It’s a job I’d be hesitant to take. We aren’t going to solve our problems overnight and it will take several years before we start seeing any positive results,” he said.

Nickolaus Bauer

Nickolaus Bauer

Nickolaus Bauer is the Mail & Guardian's jack of all trades news reporter that chases down stories ranging from politics and sports to big business and social justice. Armed with an iPad, SLR camera, camcorder and dictaphone, he aims to fight ignorance and pessimism through written words, photographs and videos. He believes South Africa could be the greatest country in the world if only her citizens would give her a chance to flourish instead of dwell on the negativity. When he's not begging his sub-editors for an extra twenty minutes after deadline, he's also known to dabble in the occasional poignant column that will leave you mulling around in the depths of your psyche. The quintessential workaholic, you can also catch him doing sports on the weekday breakfast show on SAfm and presenting the SAfm Sports Special over the weekend. Read more from Nickolaus Bauer

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