A mentor whose time has come

2010-07-17 00:00

ONE of my early meetings with Pitso Mosimane was at the African Cup of Nations in Egypt in 2006. Being in an out-of-the-way hotel, I had missed the shuttle to Bafana Bafana’s morning training session. Inexperienced on Bafana sports tours and not fully aware yet of the somewhat icy protocol that surrounds the national team when in camp, I figured I should be doing something and caught a taxi to the team hotel some 20 km outside Alexandria.

As an aside, the relationshop between Bafana and the press is something that perhaps needs revisiting. Team hotels are largely out of bounds, and the regulated five-to-10-minute interviews with two or three pre-selected players after each training session are designed to give the players freedom from the press when in camp. Of course, they also shield the squad from controversial stories, which have a habit of breaking via security or other backroom staff anyway. Other African teams’ hotels are freer meeting points between the players and the media, who often mingle in a relaxed manner. The Bafana system creates a barrier — a feeling of “us and them” — that results in a cold war atmosphere between the players and media that seems counter-productive.

But that’s an issue for another column.

Mosimane was sitting in the hotel foyer watching a replay of a Real Madrid game on TV, when I approached Ted Dumitru’s assistant coach, looking for quotes for my daily story. “Are you sure you are following the correct protocol,” he naturally asked, first, though proceeded to answer just enough questions for me to get a decent enough story together.

When I had introduced myself, his answer was, “I know who you are”. Not used to being recognised by bigger-name Jo’burg soccer personalities at that stage, I continued explaining who I was. “I know who you are,” he repeated patiently. Bafana Bafana’s new coach, appointed this week as the successor to Carlos Alberto Parreira, struck me then as being a man who likes to be informed; someone who takes notice of events outside of Gauteng. Perhaps this is because he is well-travelled in a playing career that started at Jomo Cosmos, progressed via Mamelodi Sundowns to Ionikos in Greece where he spent six seasons, and spanned Belgium and Qatar.

Mosimane is straight-talking and at times fiery. In 2005, the SuperSport United coach was fined R50 000 and had to make a public apology for a touchline altercation he had with Mamelodi Sundowns’ Argentinean coach, Angel Cappa.

The former striker, who played four times for Bafana in the early 1990s as his career was drawing to an end, reached five out of six cup finals as coach of SuperSport. He had taken over an under-achieving side from Bruce Grobbelaar, and while his speciality was winning cup titles, SuperSport always finished in a strong position in the league under the coach, and played a sophisticated brand of football.

Mosimane has an instantly likeable quality that stems from his intelligent, straight-talking manner. He’s sophisticated, but also grounded; European-influenced but also South African groomed. He’s an idea­s man, a quick thinker, passionate and thoughtful.

There are those who would have rather opted for Mosimane’s successor at SuperSport, Gavin Hunt, for the Bafana job. It would have been a tough decision for the SA Football Association. Indeed, there are suggestions the three-week waiting period between Bafana’s final 1-0 World Cup group stages victory over France and Mosimane’s appointment was as much for the Safa technical committee to assess the new coach’s qualities as it was because of political infighting and haggling over the respective values of the two coaches.

And for good reason, perhaps. Hunt is on a high and has won three successive league titles with SuperSport, whereas Mosimane could only win cup titles.

But to an extent Hunt’s success has been built on the formula that was established at the Pretoria team by his predecessor. And also on a winning culture that not only revolves around having a highly-competitive, well-informed, tactically aware coach, but also one who is thriving at the most professionally-run football club in the country.

Mosimane has served his time with Bafana, while Hunt has been racking up the league trophies, as an assistant to Parreira and, for a period, Joel Santana. He has been a member of a technical staff that included his much-respected co-assistant, Jairo Leal, and fitness guru Francisco Gonzalez. Safa are to make efforts, at Mosimane’s request, to keep on the influential duo.

Bafana’s new coach has gained international experience. He’s sat on the bench in two Nations Cups, in Egypt and Ghana, a Confederations Cup, and in countless friendly internationals at home and abroad. He was part of the pre-World Cup training camps in Brazil and Germany that played such a large role in turning 83rd-ranked Bafana into a competitive team against what should have been vastly superior opponents at the World Cup.

He has been watching and learning and gaining knowledge and experience. It was the original reason for the appointment of a South African to Parreira’s technical staff that he should learn and eventually take over as head coach.

Mosimane’s time has come, and he’s an exciting prospect. He has tremendous challenges to overcome, not least facing Egypt in the Afcon qualifiers for the 2012 tournament in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. How to maintain Bafana’s fitness without lengthy training camps, and their World Cup intensity, is another poser. And the coach needs the backing of Safa to plough the World Cup windfall into development for the national team to have a new generation coming through to bolster the current one.

If these criteria are met by the coach and the association, Bafana just might have brighter prospects for the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/Sport

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.