Bafana Bafana

SAFA dumping solved a dilemma for Neil Tovey

Neil Tovey
Neil Tovey
Lee Warren/Gallo Images
  • Former Bafana Bafana captain Neil Tovey says he was stood down as SAFA technical director due to the stifling financial crisis.
  • The 1996 AFCON winner says had five satisfying years working at SAFA headquarters in Johannesburg.
  • But he admits had longed to return home to Durban.

Neil Tovey asserts that his recent dumping by SAFA as technical director was due to a stifling financial crisis within the portals of South African soccer's controlling body - but it solved a dilemma for him at the same time.

"I had enjoyed five satisfying years working at SAFA's headquarters in Johannesburg," explained the former Bafana Bafana captain, who led South Africa to what is still a lone Africa Cup of Nations title in 1996, "but prior to this I had spent almost my entire life in Durban and I had a gnawing desire to return to what is basically home to me.

"Ultimately you could say SAFA made the decision for me by not renewing my contract and I'll be returning to Durban, although hopefully still involved in soccer in some way - even possibly in assisting SAFA in one capacity or another."

As to SAFA's future in the midst of some cascading and bitter clashes between president Danny Jordaan and some of his closest, but now former colleagues, as well as the trimming in staff, Tovey felt that the shortage of finance was the national body's most serious problem, while recouping for the loss of some major sponsors a particularly uphill battle now in view of the dire coronavirus pandemic.

"I don't want to get involved in taking sides between officials," he added, "but personally I had a cordial relationship with the president and I'll leave it at that."

Ironically, in gauging the degree of Tovey's own mettle while at SAFA, the one area in which he was sometimes faulted in view of his success as a leader in the playing sphere, was that he could have been a more forceful influence in raising the level of Bafana through an up-and-down period instead of concentrating on his work  in a more varied degree.

This might have been due to Tovey's past footballing experience as a player and coach, making him singularly conscious not to interfere over-much in the tasks designated for others.

But while the technical director is not meant to override the Bafana coach in team matters, his contribution is nevertheless important - especially when he has something valuable to offer.

Who will fill this key role in the future? Tovey says he has no idea - although the tightening purse strings will likely be a factor in the appointment.

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