New Bafana coach has plenty work to do
Whoever Safa hires to take over the seat left vacant by fired Mashaba is going to have to hit the ground running, fast
IN A few weeks’ time, South African football fans will know who the next man will be to drink from the football chalice in 2017 when Bafana Bafana will celebrate their 25th anniversary of being admitted into Fifa in 1992.
With 16 South African coaches and 10 foreigners having passed through the SA Football Association’s (Safa) doors in coaching the national team, all eyes are on the Africa Cup of Nations 2017 in Gabon.
Uganda national coach and former Orlando Pirates mentor Milutin Sredojevic, pictured, has been widely reported as having put pen to paper with Safa to head up Bafana, following the speedily enforced removal of former national coach Ephraim “Shakes’ Mashaba for disciplinary reasons.
While the likeable Mashaba is set to have an additional 20 years longer added on to his lifespan now that he is out of the vicious football politics, the new man in charge will need to continue with Safa’s Vision 2022 plan.
The main objective of the national football body is rebuilding Bafana so that the nation can have a sustainable national team that does not only concern itself with qualification but must also compete to win. Apart from qualifying for World Cups in France (1998), Korea and Japan (2002) and automatic qualification for the 2010 showpiece which was hosted in the Rainbow Nation, Bafana’s greatest moment was undoubtedly lifting the African Cup of Nations trophy on SA soil at their first attempt under the guidance of Clive Barker.
Barker’s campaign was perfectly timed as he inherited a group of talented footballers who were hungry to showcase their talents to the world in search of lucrative club opportunities. The recipe of having ‘the right players, with the right hunger at the right time’ was ever present – something many clubs and national teams battle with across the globe in the modern era of the Beautiful Game.
Below are just a few challenges that the new man in charge of Bafana will be facing when he takes over.
Fitting into the African football way of doing things
Many European or South American coaches have battled on this front as the situation is very different to coaching on other continents. An example of this is the SA lower league and youth development structures which are way behind those of many other countries, although Safa have acknowledged this and shifted their focus to rectifying these areas.
Getting the buy-in of all PSL coaches to adapt to one pattern of play
It’s a difficult ask as each coach has his own mindset in terms of wanting his team to play. It’s also tough getting players released on time for Bafana camps, as club coaches want to hang on to their players to the maximum for their own reasons plus to safeguard against potential injury on the international front.
Constant feedback and scouting of SA players abroad
This has been an Achilles Heel to many Bafana coaches as what is often portrayed in media circles, via email or telephone interviews with overseas club sources about foreign-based SA players may not always be totally accurate or in line with the Bafana coach’s needs.
Bafana world ranking
Currently in 60th place on the Fifa world rankings, this doesn’t always help in getting friendly international matches against top opponents, with the exception of the annual Nelson Mandela Challenge, where pride and history is on the line due to the name of the event. For non-Mandela Challenge matches, there is little doubt that Safa president Danny Jordaan gets on the phone to wheel a deal or more to secure international opposition for Bafana Bafana.
Fifa international weekend (no club matches) dates are currently available on the world body’s website through to 2018, so long-term planning is possible. When looking away from Africa, sending Bafana abroad to play international friendlies is a costly affair, but it is the likely option for two reasons. The national side will improve by playing more regularly against better teams.
It will be easier to pin down match dates by sending Bafana abroad rather than trying to convince European and North and South American national federations to send their most prized assets all the way to the most southern country in Africa which has a fairly average world ranking.
All in all, the new Bafana coach will have much to do on the strategic and playing side, and even more on the mental side in a bid to satisfy a tough, unforgiving football nation.