Interim Bafana boss Owen da Gama Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

A 3-1 win for Bafana Bafana over Guinea-Bissau and a 0-0 draw with a much-changed side has Owen da Gama smiling.

And why not? From the tumultuous departure of Shakes Mashaba came the rather refreshing selection of Da Gama for the two friendlies.

He made all the right noises and brought back prodigal sons like Kamohelo Mokotjo and Kermit Erasmus, and picked other popular players such as Lebogang Manyama and Tiyani Mabunda.

Da Gama also provided opportunities to star youngsters such as Percy Tau, Phakamani Mahlambi and Luther Singh, and Bafana actually played some enterprising football last Saturday at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.

But does that mean Da Gama should take over from Mashaba on a permanent basis? Well, he was quick to say following the Angolan game that he has what it takes to manage a national team.

He cited the fact that he has been part of the Bafana management for over 50 games, as well as the SA Under-23 side, and coached for many years at club level.

The 55-year-old has certainly put in the time, but a closer look at his CV will show that he hasn’t achieved the necessary success to justify a long-term Bafana appointment.

Da Gama has mainly been in charge of “smaller clubs” such as Dynamos, Free State Stars, Platinum Stars and Bloemfontein Celtic, with his only major gig being a one-season stint at Orlando Pirates, when they finished eighth in the league in 2007/08.

His best spell at club level came in a second tenure at Silver Stars, winning the Telkom Knockout in 2006/07, and taking Stars to second in the league in the same season.

At national level, he qualified the SA Under-23s for the 2016 Rio Olympics, but they were knocked out at the group stage in Brazil.

Da Gama has also been the assistant coach to Mashaba at Bafana since 2014.

Of course he will put his name in the hat for consideration for the top job, especially as the SA Football Association continue to dilly-dally with making a call on a replacement for Mashaba.

What counts in his favour is the fact that Da Gama has always been a coach who likes blooding exciting young talent, and generally adopting an attacking approach.

But there is no local league success, let alone any real record to speak of on the continent. And that is Bafana’s biggest challenge.

It’s easy to win meaningless friendlies on home soil. But the going gets tough whenever South Africa have to deal with a World Cup or African Cup of Nations qualifier, home or away.

They missed out on the 2014 World Cup, and the 2017 Afcon, and crashed out in the group stages at the 2015 Afcon.

So, it is understandable that the Safa bosses are trying to secure a heavyweight coach who has a winning track record in Africa, such as Herve Renard, Hugo Broos and Ruud Krol.

Locally, worthy candidates are Pitso Mosimane and Gavin Hunt, but they are unlikely to get a look-in.

It is by time that Bafana becomes a big deal in Africa again. We have the players and all the resources.

But c’mon Safa, get your man and let’s get moving on the road to Russia 2018.

Or are they waiting for the Mashaba CCMA hearing to be concluded before announcing the new coach?

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Independent Media