The Telkom Knockout final on Saturday should serve as a reminder to club bosses that investing in local coaches comes with benefits. Therefore, the match-up between Pitso Mosimane and Eric Tinkler is a cause for celebration.
Not long ago, it was a tussle between Owen Da Gama and Kaitano Tembo in the MTN8 final.
It is fitting that Mosimane is one of the finalists as he recently said that, “if you give a local coach enough time, they will turn it around”.
And this is exactly what his opponent in Saturday’s decider in Durban, Tinkler, has done with Maritzburg United, who, less than five months ago, were on the verge of relegation. The two coaches have a lot in common – they were the last local coaches to guide a PSL club in the final of a CAF interclub competition.
Mosimane led Sundowns to the Champions League crown in 2016, and Tinkler finished as the Confederation Cup runner-up with Orlando Pirates and SuperSport United in 2015 and 2017, respectively.
There is nothing wrong with local club owners importing coaches because the exchange of knowledge and expertise is vital in this game. But it is often disappointing to see some being recycled at the expense of locals.
And it is coaches like former Free State Stars’ Nikola Kavazovic who give foreign coaches a bad name by demeaning African football.
The Serb tweeted this week: “I see haters enjoy to mention my relegation with @FreeStateStars. I didn’t relegate from some ‘potato’ league like @BTCPremiership or @KenyaPremierLg, but @OfficialPSL. And not with @KaizerChiefs, but small village club without supporters, ambitional [sic] owners, top players.”
Such disrespectful labelling of continental leagues that were his coaching springboard – Botswana and Kenya – as “potato” leagues should serve as a case study of why the likes of Kavazovic must not be allowed to club hop.
The South African football landscape is teeming with tacticians such as Dan “Dance” Malesela, Fadlu Davids and Benni McCarthy – all of whom have the potential to reach the same heights as Mosimane, who is arguably the country’s top achiever.
Malesela showed his class when he steered First Division campaigners TS Galaxy to the Nedbank Cup triumph last season, while Davids was in charge of Maritzburg United when they lost to Free State Stars in the same competition a year earlier.
There are many other examples, including Manqoba Mngqithi, who holds the record for the biggest winning margin in a cup final in the PSL era. His unfashionable Golden Arrows demolished Ajax Cape Town 6-0 in the 2009 MTN8 Cup final.
Roger De Sá won a domestic cup with Ajax Cape Town in 2015 – lifting the MTN8 trophy – and he also enjoyed success on the continent by reaching the CAF Champions League final with Pirates in 2013.
Looking across the board, Safa and Pirates have afforded our own the opportunities to excel.
To their credit, Pirates have given inexperienced Rhulani Mokwena a chance to prove himself, despite the mounting pressure on the young coach since he assumed the caretaker role in August.
It is also encouraging to see the national teams in the hands of locals – Molefi Ntseki guiding Bafana Bafana, David Notoane in charge of the Under-23s and Helman Mkhalele at the helm of the Under-20s in the Cosafa Cup, which is under way in Zambia.
Notoane, who is assisted by Kwanele Kopo, guided the Olympic squad to a third-place finish and a subsequent qualification to next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, at the recently concluded Under-23 Afcon finals in Egypt.
So, to see Mosimane and Tinkler plotting against each other at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday should be celebrated and should serve as a reminder to the local club bosses that they don’t have to look for coaches beyond our borders all the time.
Yes, a Maritzburg versus Sundowns final might not be the fixture many had hoped for, but South African coaching will be the winner at the end of it all.