The search for Stuart Baxter’s successor started in earnest yesterday – a day after the Bafana Bafana coach resigned from his post. Assistant coach Molefi Ntseki had been appointed as interim coach.
City Press has reliably learnt that a four-member committee has been tasked with urgently recommending a local coach to lead Bafana.
According to an insider, the four are expected to report back to Safa’s technical committee by the end of this month.
It is believed that the committee is made up of technical committee chairperson Jack Maluleke, David Nyathi, Buddha Mathathe and Sudesh Singh.
“He will be a local coach,” said the insider who was part of the meeting.
“We decided to go local again and empower one of our own, and it should not be difficult to find one.”
Heading into their meeting yesterday, Safa technical committee members were divided on their choices, but Mamelodi Sundowns’ Pitso Mosimane, Gavin Hunt of Bidvest Wits, Cape Town City’s Benni McCarthy, Ntseki and Golden Arrows coach Steve Komphela were mentioned as possible candidates.
Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane
“It might be difficult to get Pitso because he is comfortable at Sundowns. Benni is definitely in the picture and I think his chairperson has already hinted that he might let him go if the national team calls. But he will need to be monitored because sometimes he becomes too emotional,” the insider said.
“Molefi has been part of the system and knows the ins and outs of the team, while Gavin is the only one who has never been given a chance at a national level.”
Maluleke was on Friday quoted as declaring his admiration for Komphela.
After all, the new coach will be the twenty-seventh to take charge of Bafana since South Africa’s readmission to international football in 1992.
Before people get excited about the potential candidates, the question Safa must addressed is: What are the characteristics they are looking for in a coach to take the Bafana project forward?
The process of hiring a new Bafana coach is a matter of urgency because the next open Fifa international week is next month, with the 2021 Afcon qualifiers scheduled for November.
The insider said Baxter attended part of yesterday’s meeting, where he submitted his Afcon technical report.
“I think it was good for him to take us through his report than to just send it.”
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While some are calling for the appointment of McCarthy (41), perhaps Aliou Cissé can be used to measure the capabilities of the Cape Town City tactician, who is only in his third season as a club coach.
In 2015, Senegal hired Cissé, who succeeded Frenchman Alain Giresse as the senior national team’s coach.
Cissé was 38 when he signed a four-year contract, which was extended by a year after the 2017 Afcon tournament with a clear mandate to reach the Afcon final, which he did in Egypt a fortnight ago.
Cissé – who captained Senegal at the 2002 World Cup – also guided the Teranga Lions to the World Cup in Russia last year.
His coaching career includes spells as Senegal’s assistant coach, and he was part of the country’s coaching team at the 2012 Olympics.
Granted, McCarthy still has a lot to learn should he be appointed as the national team’s coach.
Cape Town City tactician Benni McCarthy
The late Stephen Keshi ultimately guided Nigeria to an elusive Afcon triumph in 2013, as well as to the Last 16 at the World Cup in Brazil the next year. His rise as a coach can be traced all the way through the country’s junior national structures.
McCarthy’s boss, Cape Town City owner John Comitis, told City Press this week: “If that’s what the nation needs and wants, we have to listen to that. But it will obviously be up to Benni.
“The best thing about Benni is that he is humble enough to listen.”
However, Comitis warned that McCarthy might still need a little more time before he coaches Bafana “because nobody wants to see another failure”.
Safa acting chief executive Russell Paul said the football federation would take direction from the technical committee.
“The intention would be to try to resolve something before the end of this month,” Paul said.