Commenting about the state of the domestic game while on a promotional tour here this week, Quinton Fortune made several statements which left some among us wondering if he’d been living under a rock all these years since he quit competitive football.
Among other things, Fortune, the former Bafana Bafana midfielder, was reported to have again lobbied for the return of Benni McCarthy and Siyabonga Nomvete to the national set-up, joining a debate which has become tedious.
“There are no leaders in Bafana at the moment,” he was quoted as saying.
“When I came into the team I had people like Lucas (Radebe) and Shaun (Bartlett) to look up to. There were other experienced players who played abroad. Bafana don’t have that now, which is why players such as Benni and Nomvete should be recalled to the team.”
Either Fortune is ill-informed or completely being disingenuous in his inference that Bafana are bereft of leaders and/or experience. His comments are a direct insult to several members of the team, such as captain Steven Pienaar and vice-skipper Siphiwe Tshabalala, who between them have over 120 senior international caps.
Siboniso Gaxa, Katlego Mphela, Kagisho Dikgacoi, Teko Modise and Tsepo Masilela, who all have been in the national set up for over five or more years, are also some of the senior players who would take issue with Fortune’s statement that “there are no leaders” in the national side.
In any case, would it make sense to fill Fortune’s imagined void of leadership with McCarthy and Nomvete, when neither was an exceptional leader at international level during their prime?
I will continue to state, without fear of tiring, that a series of cameo performances in the domestic Premiership is no basis to tell if a player who used to be good 10 years ago would excel again at international level. But the “lack of leadership” comment was not the only thoughtless thing coming out of Fortune’s mouth this week. His assertion that Bafana should hire an “international manager” was the most ludicrous.
“We need an international manager, so that we can progress. The person should be given 10-15 years to build something solid,” Fortune said.
He’s implying that Bafana are where they are today – winless in six matches, unable to score goals let alone qualify for tournaments – because a local coach, Pitso Mosimane is in charge. Has Fortune forgotten that Mosimane was preceded by “international managers”? Stuart Baxter, the Englishman under whom Fortune played when we failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup; Carlos Alberto Parreria, the Brazilian who today wears the shaming crown of being the only man to coach a host nation not to progress to the knockout phase of a World Cup; and Joel Santana, also a Brazilian who was the worst coach in Bafana’s history, are some of the names that may have escaped Fortune’s seemingly amnesic mind.
Bafana’s history points to a litany of other failed “international managers”, with the exception of Carlos Quieroz, of Mozambican origin, who qualified us for the World Cup in 2002.
Other than that, all the coaches recruited from beyond our borders had little success.
In fact, Bafana’s most successful coaches (those who won medals at the African Nations Cup) – Clive Barker (1996 champions), Jomo Sono (1998 silver medallists) and Trott Moloto (2000 bronze medallists) are all of local origin.Shakes Mashaba also did sterling work at both under-23 and Bafana level, but is seemingly unfit to wear the narrow “international manager” title bestowed on others by Fortune, the ex-Manchester United player.
For a man who played in two World Cups, Fortune should really know better than to make demeaning, blanket accusations in pursuit of catchy soundbytes and headlines. As history has taught us, a coach’s origin is no way to determine if Bafana’s complex challenges would be fixed. – Follow Matshe on Twitter @Nkareng