Barker was speaking at the launch of his football academy, which he says will be his contribution towards producing stars that will make South African soccer fans happy again. The man they called “The Dog” during his successful stint with the Bafana team, when they won the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations, lamented the state the national soccer side finds itself in currently.
“The performance of Bafana worried me at the Afcon (when they were bundled out in the quarter-finals by Nigeria). It (the approach) was so negative. We are a big country, we shouldn’t play catch up,” he said. “We are not producing top players in Africa at the moment. When I saw them playing at the Afcon, I asked myself, is that the way we’re supposed to play? The coach (Stuart Baxter) had a big influence on how we played and he didn’t get it right.”
Bafana were menacing under the tutelage of Barker back in the mid to late 1990s. Apart from winning the Afcon competition with the side in 1996, Barker also engineered the South Africa’s first qualification to World Cup finals (in France in 1998).
He, however, said yesterday in Durban North, that he remained optimistic that Bafana could still reclaim their status as one of the leading teams on the continent.