Booth: Was Parreira right man?
A decade ago, a cloud of prosperity and pride engulfed South Africa as they hosted the maiden World Cup on African soil, ensuring that the national team made their third entrance in the global showpiece after 1998 and 2002.
Disappointing as it may be that Bafana became the first team to crash out of the group stage of their own party - after drawing with Mexico, losing to Uruguay and beating France - the South Africans haven’t been consistent in qualifying for a major tournament.
They have failed to qualify for the last two World Cups in Brazil in 2014 and Russia in 2018. In the biennial Africa Cup of Nations showpiece, Bafana made the 2013, 2015 and 2019 editions, while they missed out in 2017.
However, according to Booth, Bafana’s biggest downfall has been the shuffling of coaches in the last decade. In that period, they’ve had Pitso Mosimane, Shakes Mashaba, Gordon Igesund, Steve Komphela, Stuart Baxter and Molefi Ntseki, the current coach.
“Football is about being patient. And making a decision to stick to a coach, who you’ll believe in his philosophy, is important. If you are going to be chopping and changing, there’s never going to be consistency,” the Bafana 2010 World Cup squad member said.
“We as athletes love consistency. I want to be playing with a centre-back partner for the entire season. I don’t want to keep on changing when a new coach comes, while they’ll be new players who’ll be surrounding me.”
Going down memory lane, Booth also feels the nation’s downfall has always been the preference for international coaches, who’ve come with a lofty billing, over the local coaches, who actually have a broader knowledge of South African football.
Remember how Clive Barker won Bafana’s first Afcon in 1995 and went on to guide the national team to their first global showpiece in 1998 but couldn’t reap the fruits of his labour as Philippe Troussier held the reins in the main event in France?
Twelve years after their maiden global showpiece event, South Africa, again, ditched local coaches, going for Carlos Alberto Parreira who won the World Cup with his native Brazil in 1994, Copa América in 2004 and Confederations Cup in 2005.
“The case in 2010 and the years after, have been similar to the 1998 World Cup scenario with Clive Barker. It was our first World Cup and Safa wanted to impress and ‘we had to somehow get a high profile coach and get Barker out. We got Troussier’,” Booth said.
“Was the appointment of Parreira the right decision for the team? Why not give a local coach a chance, let him get the experience and run with the team? So, it was disappointing from that point of reference. I don’t think we got progression from that group because of that decision.”