Crisis point for Bafana

2008-04-20 00:00

JUST when it seemed that Bafana Bafana had finally turned a corner ahead of the 2010 World Cup, the man who engineered that turnaround, coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, is gone.

Parreira and the SA Football Association are expected to announce the coach’s resignation at a media briefing in Johannesburg at around 3 pm today. This will follow an extraordinary meeting of Safa’s national executive committee at 2 pm, where it is believed the coach will hand in his notice.

This shock development — the result, according to reports in the Brazilian press, of Parreira wanting to return to Brazil to attend to his seriously ill wife, Leila, who has cancer — could not have come at a worse time for Bafana.

The national team, after their tame exit in the first round of the African Nations Cup in Ghana in January, had finally roared into life in an impressive 3-0 victory over a highly-rated Paraguay in Pretoria at the end of last month. Bafana had been threatening to “click” for some time under Parreira, and against the South Americans it seemed this had finally happened.

The result was significant because it silenced government detractors of Parreira, including Sports Minister Makhenkesi Stofile, who had threatened to “nationalise” Bafana, and the chairman of the parliament’s portfolio committee on sport, Butana Khompela, who had called the coach and players “pathetic”.

In an excellent victory over the Paraguayans, Bafana also went a long way to winning over what had been an increasingly sceptical press. Parreira, Bafana’s 14th coach in 15 years, seemed set for a luxury few before him had experienced of an improving relationship with the media and breathing space to continue calling up experimental squads, creating a pool of young, up-and-coming players ahead of 2010.

No-one expected Bafana to suddenly start winning all their games convincingly, but 2008 was poised to be an exciting turning point, with the team set to become more clearly defined in its player personnel, and more consistent in its performances in the year of the Confederations Cup in 2009.

Whoever takes over from Parreira now will not quite have to start from scratch. They will have the legacy of a pool of around 90 players that were identified by the Brazilian World Cup-winning coach since taking over the Bafana job in January last year.

But for any coach, building a competitive team for the World Cup in just two years will be an undertaking verging on the impossible. To make matters worse, Bafana have vital Nations Cup qualifiers to play in the following months. They meet Nigeria in Abuja on May 30, then in June are at home against Equatorial Guinea, away against Sierra Leone, then at home again to Sierra Leone in the space of three weeks.

Parreira has reportedly named several potential successors, saying he believes Safa should employ a Brazilian. These include current Flamengo coach Joel Santana and International boss Abel Braga.

Other names linked to the job include former England and current Manchester City coach Sven-Goran Eriksson and Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, whose contract ends after Euro 2008 in June. Scolari won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002 and took Portugal to the Euro 2004 final and 2006 World Cup semi-finals.

Safa might choose to give the job to Parreira’s assistants, Jairo Leal and Pitso Mosimane, for the sake of continuity and to carry on the work the coach has started.

Swift decisions and action must be taken by the association, perhaps with assistance from LOC chairman Danny Jordaan and Fifa president Sepp Blatter, to find the right man in the shortest space of time, and avoid a national catastrophe.

Join the conversation! 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. 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
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

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


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 network.


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.