Hold those who hire accountable

April 1, 2021

Another Bafana Bafana coach bites the dust following the unsurprising sacking of Molefi Ntseki in the wake of the 2-0 defeat to Sudan.

The 51-year-old was a surprise choice when he was given the national job 20 months ago, taking over from Stuart Baxter who had lasted for only two years in his second stint in the job.

South Africa’s football has been in a mess at national level for nearly 20 years and the memories of winning the Africa Cup of Nations in 1996 have become a distant recollection. 

Going down to Sudan meant that Ghana and Sudan qualified from the four-team group to reach the 24-country Africa Cup of Nations finals. How the mighty have fallen – and keep falling. It’s nothing short of a national disgrace that one of the powerhouses on the African continent  consistently fails to qualify for the African Cup of Nations of the World Cup.

Perhaps the appointment of Patrice Motsepe as head of CAF (Africa’s football body) will see him get more involved at South African level and ensure there’s a shake-up within Safa. At the very least Motsepe must ensure Danny Jordaan, the Safa boss, makes the right appointment when replacing Ntseki.

The latter is the eighth coach to come and go since the 2010 World Cup – hosted in South Africa. He joins Carlos Alberto Parreira (two stints), Joel Santana, Pitso Mosimane, Steve Komphela (caretaker), Gordon Igesund, Shakes Mashaba, Stuart Baxter and now Ntseki to be hired and fired.

It’s not as if the bar is set particularly high either. Just getting Bafana Bafana through to a major tournament would probably please the paymasters and public given how far the national team has fallen.

There are zero expectations for the national team that simply qualifying for a tournament would be seen as improvement. Although, it doesn’t seem to be as simple as that.

Ahead of the next Fifa rankings coming out, South Africa were ranked 71st in the world and 13th in Africa, with Senegal being rated the continent’s best team. 

Given all the finances, playing facilities and the most organised league on the continent it’s a sad situation that Bafana Bafana are as poor as they are. Who will Safa next employ – they’ve committed to doing so ahead of June’s World Cup qualifiers – is anyone’s guess. They’ve tried a mixture of local and international coaches and their best success came with Clive Barker, a South African.

Perhaps, given the fact Motsepe is now the president of African football, we need to go out and make a statement. Hire a top-class coach, but in the same mention to avoid those who have been elsewhere in Africa, as the continent is littered with European coaches who have fallen out with players for a variety of reasons. The coach must be English speaking and they must have a reputation. 

Instead of a long-term fixed contract, find a coach whose main remuneration would come from incentives in terms of games won and tournaments qualified for. Also, how about an accountability process for the panel who hires the next coach, to avoid it being a selection made for personal reasons. 

All coaches know they get hired to be fired, but it would help if the panel doing the hiring actually puts their country first, and not their pockets.

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