Mixed reaction to Bafana coach

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Johannesburg - There has been mixed reactions following news that Carlos Alberto Parreira has been re-appointed as Bafana Bafana coach.

The South African Football Association (SAFA) made the announcement last night following a lengthy meeting at the OR Tambo International Airport.

SAFA President Kirsten Nematandani attempted to minimise any speculation when he said Parreira was the only candidate for the job. Earlier in the day speculation was rife that SAFA was divided over the matter with some members pressing for the appointment of a national coach.

The large number of journalists, who gathered there since early afternoon, were kept guessing as to who would guide the ailing national team to the 2010 FIFA World Cup. This was until Nematandani revealed the top secrete just after 7pm.

"We want to announce that the country has a coach and that coach is Mr Parreira," said Nematandani. There were also conflicting reports that suggested Parreira was already in the country, but Nematandani said the Brazilian would join the team in the next seven days.

Apparently a SAFA delegation had visited Brazil earlier in the week and met with Parreira on Thursday, a day he was offered the job. Nematandani said SAFA had decided to overlook local coaches because Parreira had started the "process" and it was him who needed to finish it. "I will be honest and say that we knew other South African born coaches were keen to be appointed. But we simply did not have the time to short list candidates," he said.

Parreira takes over the Bafana job at a time the team is in a bad shape. His fellow Brazilian Carlos Santana resigned earlier this week following a string of poor performances by the national team. Under Santana, Bafana had lost eight games in succession drawing widespread anger from the soccer loving South Africans. But some may argue that even Parreira, who left the team to return to Brazil to attend to his wife who was sick, did not have an unquestionable spell as Bafana coach. Parreira failed to win a game at the 2008 African Nations Cup. Also his short tenure as Bafana coach produced nothing to be proud of.

While Nematandani explained that Parreira was chosen in favour of continuity, many, including the newly appointed team assessors, Jomo Sono, Clive Barker and Gavin Hunt were not convinced by the move. The trio, who were seen chatting to journalists in an informal engagement at the Inter-Continental Hotel bar, made their feelings clear. Barker, who took Bafana to the 1998 World Cup in France, did not mince his words and said as far as he was concerned, a local coach would do a much better job. "I really do feel we should go for a local coach, someone who knows the team and players much better," Barker said.

His sentiments were echoed by both Hunt and Sono, both seasoned local coaches.