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They would have arrived bright eyed and bushy-tailed at Safa house early this morning aware that this could be the initial step towards adding their names to national folklore.
Likely to be resplendent in their Sunday best, some would no doubt have been clutching at their iPads and laptops from which they will make their presentations to the Safa technical committee. And there’s every possibility one could have a huge file teeming with paperwork under his arm, he is that old-school.
Four of the five men short-listed for the job of South African senior national team coach will on Thursday make their presentations to the technical committee chaired by Fanyana Sibanyoni.
Also listening in and watching the presentations almost hawk-eyed will be the association’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Robin Petersen, Safa’s technical director Serame Letsoaka as well as technical team member Bhuda Mathathe. Ted Dumitru, another member of the technical team, is said to be out of the country and will thus miss the presentations.
It is the presence of former Bafana Bafana coaches Clive Barker and Jomo Sono that should serve to add spice to the search for the man to help take the country back to what many believe to be our rightful place as the top footballing nation on the continent.
The two have an illustrious history with the national team and no doubt have an idea what it will take to take bafana back to their heady days as one of Africa’s best.
Yet it will be interesting to see how their being there impacts on all of Shakes Mashaba (himself an erstwhile head of Bafana Bafana), three-time Premiership champion Gavin Hunt of SuperSport United, Neil Tovey under whose captaincy Bafana Bafana enjoyed their best moment (winning the Nations Cup) and Gordon Igesund, the man deemed by most as best for suited for the job following his heroics with Moroka Swallows last season as well as his championship-winning pedigree.
For all his reputation as a master of the game from way back in his playing days until he led Bafana to silver-medal position at the 1998 Africa Cup of Nations as well as being the first local to coach the country at the World Cup, Sono has tarnished his technical reputation somewhat in recent years.
Bra J’s continued relegation of his Cosmos has had many calling for him to leave coaching. And while they will be at their best behaved eager to impress, one can just imagine Gavin or even Gordon thinking to themselves ‘what does he know, I always beat his team’.
Barker has not really showered himself in glory in recent years and he too might just find the super-achievers he’s assessing looking down on him.
Be that as it may, Thursday marks a very special point in the country’s football and this much Petersen was at pains trying to explain on Wednesday.
“We are starting a process that will bring results and change the dynamics of the team,” said Petersen, stating that the coach was ultimately responsible for the team’s performance.
One of the requirements the new coach will have to fulfill is ensuring that Bafana qualify for the next World Cup in 2014, a task that Petersen is confident we will complete, but could not guarantee.
“We will win our group, but with the nature of the game you cannot always give guarantees when it comes to home and away fixtures,” said Petersen, referring to the qualifying matches that follow the group stages.
No pressure then on whoever gets chosen!
Yet all these men are accustomed to pressure, Mashaba perhaps more than most Bra Shakes having coached the squad previously. As it is, of all the candidates, Mashaba’s pedigree at international level is the best of the lot. And you can bet he will arrive at Safa house clutching a file loaded with records of achievements that dates back to 1997 when he lead the national under 20 side to silver at the Africa Youth Championships, a feat that saw him become the first coach to qualify the country for a world tournament (the youth championships). Add to that Olympic qualification in 2000 and his leading Bafana to the 2004 Nations Cup qualification only to be fired for refusing to be dictated to on team selection and you have a winner.
Or do you? Igesund’s incredible work with Swallows this year – he turned them from relegation survivors to championship challengers in a season – has nearly the entire country clamouring for him to get the job. And perhaps rightly so, given he has done just about all there is at club level (four championships with four different teams).
Hunt has led unfancied SuperSport to an amazing three successive league titles, no mean feat. And Tovey’s championship success with Mamelodi Sundowns (albeit it was in conjunction with Miguel Gamondi) makes him a worthy contender. Besides, Mokoko has vast experience at development level having worked with the under 17s as well as being intimately involved with the Danone Nations Cup.
All three though would pretty much be rookies at international level compared to Mashaba and Komphela who will make his presentation next week. – Star Africa