The Bafana coach debate: A local coach is the best bet

2014-02-02 10:01

A local coach is the best bet

I am tempted to dance to the tune of bra Hugh Masekela’s song Home Is Where The Music Is when I think of who the next Bafana Bafana coach should be.

I am always for the saying, “home is where the heart is”. We need to appreciate what our country can offer, and we must embrace and show faith in our local coaches.

Statistics will show that the only time Bafana were successful was when a local coach was in charge. (Clive Barker was the coach in 1996, when we won the Africa Cup of Nations.)

In the same competition two years later, another son of the soil, Jomo Sono, finished second In 2000, yet another South African, Trott Moloto, led the team to a third-place finish.

Since then the team has never recovered – with either foreign or local coaches.

No foreigner can claim to be more in tune with the mentality and origin of a South African footballer than a local coach.

Their perceived shortcomings notwithstanding, Moloto, Shakes Mashaba, Screamer Tshabalala, Teboho Moloi and Doctor Khumalo are more adept at evaluating whether a local player is suitable.

They all know, like naturalised South African Ted Dumitru, that our boys will always be physically weighed down by any European opposition. But they will also tell you how these opponents can be subdued.

They offer personal connections and investment, while also understanding the cultural references of the players.

Remember how a Clive Barker-inspired Linda Buthelezi had the giant Paul Gascoigne, the most talented English player of his era, in his pocket right in the middle of Old Trafford?

It is no secret that Bafana under Pitso Mosimane and Mashaba showed more flair – an aspect we thrive on – and promise than under any foreign coach.

In any sport, there cannot be a more frustrating and weakening tendency than sacrificing your best asset.

Sadly this seems to be the case each time we get a foreigner.

Local coaches are familiar with the local customs and are able to identify more local talent than foreign coaches who don’t know much about our players.

Most of our players cannot express themselves well in English and the message sometimes gets muddied when

a coach has to quickly relay instructions on the field of play.

But most of these foreigners cannot express themselves very well in English either. So imagine coaches and players who are not on the same page linguistically. (One Joel Santana, whose tenure was disastrous, comes to mind here.)

In recent years, local coaches have developed themselves and acquired the necessary technical and tactical knowledge needed to succeed in the game.

One can no longer accuse our coaches of having inferior tactics and of lacking depth.

If we are serious about getting our football back on track, it is time we grow and develop our human capacity.

Unfortunately, local coaches are not given the same support and respect given to their foreign counterparts.

It is high time we dismissed the perception that our foreign-based players do not respect our local coaches.

These players go through the hands of the same coaches before going overseas, so how could they undermine them?

Yes, they might have moved on in their careers and be playing at the highest levels, but football is universal and as professionals they must always respect and abide by the coach’s instructions, irrespective of where they are from.

The only area where local coaches fall short is in their management skills, but I have no doubt they can improve on this aspect of the game.

Local will always be lekker for me.

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