Next Bafana coach a foreigner?

S’Busiso Mseleku (File)
S’Busiso Mseleku (File)
The South African Football Association’s (SAFA) appointment of Dutch coach Vera Pauw as Banyana Banyana head coach is a pointer in a new direction.

The 51-year-old, whose task is to prepare the women’s national team for the African Women’s Championship in Namibia in October as well as qualify them for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada, is highly qualified.

Having been the Technical Director of the Russian Football Union, their women’s national team interim coach in 2011, the Netherlands’ Technical Director and Women’s national team coach from 2004-2010 after being Technical Director for the Scottish Women’s national team between 1998 and 2004, the coach’s credentials speak for themselves.

She even took her native Netherlands to a bronze medal at the 2009 European Championships in Finland.

According to SAFA president Danny Jordaan her appointment was “well thought out”.

He said the organisation was confident that in her, they had a coach who could take Banyana Banyana to the next level, pointing to a shift towards turning South African football around.

However, this appointment should come as bad news for South African coaches.

My reading of the situation is that SAFA will go for a foreign coach to lead Bafana Bafana and also another foreigner as Technical Director.

How do I come to this conclusion?

Looking at Pauw’s qualifications and achievements, it will be difficult for SAFA - or should I say it won’t make sense - to appoint people who are less qualified than her to be her senior as Bafana Bafana coach and Technical Director.

The latter position is that of the boss of all the coaches while the Bafana Bafana coach is the most senior of all national teams coaches seeing that the senior men’s team is supposed (I use the word carefully here) to be the jewel in the SAFA crown.

Only time will tell whether this is the correct route to pursue.

But the sad reality is that it will be difficult for SAFA to find a local coach who is more qualified than Pauw and has been more exposed to international trends than the Dutch coach.

While our coaches have done well domestically, their exposure to international soccer and latest trends in coaching leaves much to be desired.

This is one reason we don’t have South African soccer coaches working in other parts of the world.

Yes, Mlungisi “Professor” Ngubane did have a stint coaching in neighbouring Namibia while Shakes Mashaba has guided the Swaziland national team.

But the two countries are no soccer giants by any stretch of imagination.

Just as we haven’t seen an exodus of our soccer players to top leagues in Europe, we haven’t seen clubs or countries from that part of the world come knocking at the door of our coaches flashing Euros and offering them plum jobs.

And your guess is as good as mine why this is not the case.

So don’t be surprised if the next Bafana Bafana coach and Technical Director are foreigners.

Just as former Banyana Banyana coach Joseph “Skheshekheshe” Mkhonza has been redeployed as National Selector, we are likely to see more re-deployments.

That’s South African soccer for you.    

S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.

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