It was not a call he had anticipated, but when Safa asked Molefi Ntseki if he would be keen to step in as interim Bafana Bafana coach after head coach Stuart Baxter resigned, the former schoolteacher did not hesitate to say yes.
“I didn’t anticipate this appointment, but I anticipated the possibility of coach Stuart stepping down based on how things unfolded at the Afcon in Egypt,” Ntseki told City Press.
“But when I received a call from the chief executive officer [Russell Paul] last Saturday afternoon telling me that the technical committee had recommended me and asked what I thought about it, I said I was ready and I accepted the responsibility to lead the country.”
Ntseki, who turns 50 next Sunday, has been part of the Safa national teams’ coaching structures for five years.
It was a logical move for him to take over as he’s been Baxter’s deputy for two years.
“I am prepared to take the baton and surge forward,” said Ntseki, who hails from Botshabelo township in the Free State.
While his stay at the helm will be determined by whether Safa lands a permanent coach, Ntseki’s immediate task is to prepare a team for the next Fifa international calendar week against a yet-to-be confirmed opponent next month.
“On a personal level, it will be important to get a friendly match to settle – induction does not apply only to players,” Ntseki said.
Although he harbours ambitions to coach Bafana full time, Ntseki’s name is not one of those being bandied about for the vacant post.
But he’s not bothered.
“People are saying, who’s Molefi? I am not worried about what people think of me. This is my 21st year in coaching. I have long done my internship. This is the time to show my hand so that people can appreciate my work,” said Ntseki, who steered the SA Under-17s to the 2015 World Cup in Chile.
He said his cool demeanour should not be mistaken for weakness.
Ntseki paid tribute to Baxter, saying he learnt a lot as understudy to the Scotsman.
“Coach Stuart is very detailed when it comes to programmes. He works more on structure and tactical discipline. He also knows how to handle the pressure.”
Ntseki said he would soon meet Safa to work out the logistics regarding the next camp, as well as to finalise his team of support staff.
The game will be used as a test ahead of Bafana’s 2021 Afcon qualifier against Ghana in November.