Bafana Bafana

Fans uncertain on new Bafana coach appointment

Molefi Ntseki (Gallo Images)
Molefi Ntseki (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - An impassioned plea on the SAFA website implores all South Africans to give amiable Molefi Ntseki a chance to succeed as the new Bafana Bafana coach - but the fans seem to view it might have been a "penny wise, pound foolish" miscalculation rather than a canny "basement bargain" appointment.

This, it seems, is the general view in the poll conducted by News24 in which Gavin Hunt was the favourite to replace the resigned Stuart Baxter as Bafana's supremo with 38% of the vote; Benni McCarthy came in next best at 29%; Pitso Mosimane, who has since declared in no uncertain terms he would  not accept a second spell at the helm of the national team, was supported by 10% of the voters; 15% wanted an overseas coach and only 9% plumped for another South African of their choice.

Ntseki, whose lengthy experience as a SAFA and other football employee has been in the junior national ranks or as an assistant coach, has no previous senior coaching head position of note to his credit and was not as much as mentioned in the poll.

Indeed, contrary to the SAFA report's assessment that Ntseki was appointed because he was best qualified and experienced to fill the crucial position of Bafana head coach, a widespread assumption in soccer circles is that the cash-strapped national association was guided in no small measure in making their choice by financial considerations - with other candidates demanding a hefty remuneration if offered the job.

South African soccer critics of one sort or another - indeed those in most other sporting codes as well - are known to be a particularly fickle lot in assessing coaches who do not deliver the goods and because of the current situation of Bafana not having qualified for a World Cup since 2002 - the participation in 2010 was automatic as the host nation - the microscope is likely to be focused on Ntseki from the outset.

To his credit, the new coach at the helm has made a good impression with level-headed comments in justifying his choice, notably for his role as the coach of the South African under-17 team in reaching the World Cup Finals and because of his knowledge gleaned of the current Bafana crop of players as the assistant coach - although it should be pointed out that on principle Baxter was far from happy that SAFA did not give him the option to choose his own assistant coach and technical staff generally.

The political climate that caused the postponement of the friendly international against Zambia which would have acted as Ntseki's Bafana coaching baptism, will give him needed time to come to terms with the enormous challenges lying in wait.

But judgement on Ntseki will ultimately depend on how Bafana measure up in looming 2021 African Nations Cup and 2022 World Cup qualifying matches - if not sooner!

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