Coaching trio to assess Santana

2009-10-07 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — New South African Football Association president Kirstin Nematandani has moved quickly to halt Bafana Bafana’s slide by appointing SuperSport United coach Gavin Hunt and two former Bafana coaches, Clive Barker and Jomo Sono, to assess the national team coach Joel Sanatana and the side’s performances.

Santana and his beleaguered Bafana squad left yesterday night for two friendly matches against Norway in Oslo on Saturday and Iceland in Reykjavik on Tuesday knowing that his new bosses are going to be much tougher to please than the old regime and mediocrity will not be tolerated.

Nematandani and his new committee have made no bones about the fact they are fed up with the poor results that Bafana and Santana have delivered since the Confederations Cup in June.

Nematandani warned after the Safa annual general meeting last Saturday, where he was the shock winner unopposed for the presidency, that getting Bafana back on track for next June’s World Cup finals was one of his major priorities.

The new Safa boss said after his first meeting with his new NEC that they were worried about the way Bafana have been performing.

He said: “We have not made any judgments as yet. But we need to get Bafana back to their winnings ways and fast. Hopefully the input by messers Sono, Hunt and Barker will assist the NEC to decide the way forward.”

Bafana have lost six of their last seven matches. Their only win was a lucky 1-0 home victory over Madagascar, ranked 131st in the world.

But the new Safa boss disclosed that the ideal was hatched at yesterday’s NEC meeting.

“I have not spoken to Barker, Sono or Hunt but I am sure they will come to assist us. We as the new Safa leadership need to know what is going on at ground level with Bafana,” Nematandani said.

In other words, should Santana fail against both Norway and Iceland he can virtually kiss his R1,4 million-permonth job goodbye.

Santana is at this stage unaware of these new developments. But they will add to the pressure. Last week Santana was described as a “dead man walking” when he named his squad for these two friendly matches.

The local media called for his head but Santana refused to budge. Nematandani said that while he demanded results he wanted to support Santana and give him a chance. The stubborn and ultra conservative Santana has refused to deal with local coaches and listen to advice.

But it appears that Safa have had enough and have given Santana enough rope now to hang himself if he again fails to deliver.

Bloemfontein Celtic captain Thabo Nthethe has been called up to the Bafana squad travelling to Norway and Iceland. The player takes the place of Belgium-based defender Anele Ngcongca who had to withdraw due to a family bereavement.

Despite the late call-up, Nthethe had to jet out with the squad last night.

Ngcongca’s withdrawal follows that of the injured Steven Pienaar who has since been replaced by Franklin Cale of Ajax Cape Town.


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