A fallen hero

2013-02-17 10:00

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Former Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates manager Phil “Mr Jones” Setshedi who was this week sentenced to eight years on charges related to match-fixing, was no slouch on the field of play but controversy has dogged him in the aftermath of a glowing playing career, writes S’busiso Mseleku.

Once known as “Mr Clean”, Phil “Mr Jones” Setshedi was a sturdy defender for Orlando Pirates, even contributing some important goals when the chips were down.

Most soccer followers – especially those a bit long in the tooth – will remember him for the sterling job he did as player-coach in 1980 when he led The Buccaneers to a 16-match unbeaten streak.

The run culminated in Pirates lifting the Mainstay Cup by beating Moroka Swallows 3-2 before a packed Orlando Stadium in one of the most memorable cup finals.

The record stood for over 20 years and was only broken on January 22, 2005 when Pirates defeated Golden Arrows 3-2 at the Johannesburg Stadium under Kosta Papic to go 17 games unbeaten.

Mr Jones was the team manager at the time.

But alas! After this week’s developments, which began with Setshedi being arrested on June 8, 2011 after a sting operation by Cape Town police, many are likely to remember him for all the wrong reasons.

That he was Bafana Bafana assistant coach when they won the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) trophy in 1996 and when they beat Zaire (now DR Congo) 1-0 on November 11 1996 to qualify for their first ever World Cup appearance, will be pushed to the back pages of his profile.

Already, many have remembered that he was at the centre of the controversy when then Bafana players John “Shoes” Moshoeu, Donald “Ace” Khuse and Steve Komphela lost $51 000, which they had given to him for safekeeping with the intention of banking it the next day.

The money disappeared at a Sandton hotel where the team was staying and Setshedi claimed, at the time, he had stored it under the bed in his hotel room.

City Press reported on November 21, 1999 that the Johannesburg High Court ordered him to repay Moshoeu R200 000 in six instalments of R5 000, six of R5 500, 12 of R6 000 and 10 of R6 500.

Some of those who worked with him reacted with shock to the news of his arrest in 2011.

Former national coach Clive Barker, former captain Neil Tovey and retired defender David Nyathi spoke glowingly of Setshedi.

Barker said: “He was terrific in 1996 at the Afcon. I found him an easy-going guy and actually he helped me select the team. When I heard about this I felt bad for him because I don’t think he has a job and is going through bad times.

“Maybe whoever put him up to this saw him as easy meat. I wish the best for him because you never like to hear about things like this.”

Tovey said: “I didn’t have a problem with him. I found him enthusiastic and he went to great lengths to help everyone.”

Nyathi, who worked with him at Pirates, added: “For us, he was a father figure. He tried to guide us and give us advice. He always told us to be honest and to trust our team-mates. It’s surprising then to hear he’d take such drastic measures. A lot has been said about corruption in our football and maybe it got to the point where the corrupters corrupted him. Maybe he is, in fact, the victim.”

Yesterday, Safa announced they had suspended the match officials implicated in Setshedi’s case.

Earlier in the week, they “welcomed the eight-year sentence imposed” on him.

President Kirsten Nematandani said: “Once again, this sends out a strong warning to anyone who might intend to tarnish the good name of the sport through corrupt and any other unsporting behaviour.”

Safa has called on the public to report suspicious activities in football on the 24-hour anti-corruption hotline number 0800 777 228.

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