The emergence of the European Super League boasting some of Europe’s powerhouse names and its dissipation within a week proves just how fast things can change in football.
Closer to home, with 18 minutes remaining on the clock, Mamelodi Sundowns, leading 1-0, looked set to inflict another defeat on Kaizer Chiefs but three minutes later they were trailing 2-1 and ended up losing the match.
It is this fast-paced nature of business in this beautiful game that makes any prediction of who is in the running for Bafana Bafana’s top job so difficult, let alone who will eventually be appointed head coach.
As of Tuesday morning, this is what we know.
SAFA was being economical with the truth last week when they cancelled the announcement of the new Bafana Bafana coach, citing travel restrictions as the reason. The truth is there was no one to announce on Saturday.
By Friday, last week three names were said to be in the race for Bafana’s top job. Those were the names of former Bafana Bafana coach Carlos Queiroz, former Cameroon mentor Hugo Broos and the first coach to win Afcon with two different countries, Herve Renard.
Locally, the names Pitso Mosimane, Gavin Hunt and Benni McCarthy had fallen off and SAFA looked set to have a foreign coach take over from Molefi Ntseki, with Queiroz leading that race.
However, following a day-long intense meeting between the SAFA Technical team and the NEC, that same Friday, the whole picture changed.
By the time SAFA announced the cancellation of the much-anticipated announcement on Saturday, the three South African-born coaches were back in the race.
As it stands, on Tuesday morning, Queiroz together with Mosimane has fallen off the list of contenders for the position.
Herve Renard, we are now told, was nothing more than a mere “media speculation” and was actually never in the race.
Hugo Broos is, as things stand, the only foreign-born coach in contention for the position.
Locally, McCarthy is leading the race, with Hunt as an option, depending on fine-detail negotiations as SAFA look to make an announcement later this week.
But who are these coaches and what is their history on the African continent and in general?
Carlos Queiroz – ones beaten twice brave?
In a clear, once bitten twice brave case, Portuguese-born mentor, Queiroz was at one stage the outright favourite for the job.
The 68-year-old first arrived in the country in 2000 and qualified the national team to their second ever World Cup qualification in 2002. However, the no nonsense mentor of very strong principles failed to travel to the quadrennial tournament with the team following a fall-out with the association. He was replaced by Jomo Cosmos boss, Jomo Sono who led the team in Korea/Japan, failing to advance to the group stages of the tournament.
Although from an African perspective Queiroz seemed the weakest of the three candidates, having not achieved more than just qualifying Bafana Bafana to the 2002 World Cup, there were other positives that might actually have given him the edge.
Queiroz obviously shot to prominence when he led the Portugal U20 side to two FIFA World Youth Championships in 1989 and 1991 with a young team that boosted the likes of the legendary Luis Figo. His impeccable background with the youth would certainly come work to his advantage, especially in a country like South Africa which does not have a good record with youth development and their systematic introduction to international football. If there was any coach of the three, who would most likely be best placed to recognise the good foundation laid by David Notoane and co. with the SA U23 side, it would have been Queiroz.
His successes also came mostly outside of Portugal which speaks of his adaptability – relative successes with South Africa in 2002, as well as with Manchester United and Real Madrid. However, it was his spell in charge of the Iranian national team, leading the team to their fourth appearance at the World Cup. In the process, he set the team on a clear upward trajectory in Asian football reaching the quarterfinals and semifinals of the Asian Cup in 2015 and 2019, respectively. His feat with Iran and Bafana Bafana were not just out of his home country but out of his continent as well.
Most importantly, considering his appointment would have been his second if appointed, Queiroz would surely know what to expect in South Africa from the ultra-critical media, fans and last but not least, SAFA’s shenanigans and the players’ limitations.
Queiroz is currently a free agent since he parted ways with Colombia last December.
Herve Renard – The French who found home in Africa
Since he first arrived in Africa in 2008, Herve Renard has spent more time in Africa than anywhere, achieving more success than anywhere else. In his second spell with the Zambian national team, the 52-year-old led Zambia to their sentimental 2012 Africa Cup of Nations championship in Gabon.
While he should get credit since he was the coach in charge when Zambia won the Afcon in 2012 in Gabon, it should be also noted that Zambia’s unstoppable attitude in the tournament was linked to the 1993 tragedy that had befallen the Zambian nation on this exact day 28 years ago (27 April 1993) . This when a plane carrying most of the Zambian players crashed moments after taking off from Libreville in Gabon killing all 25 passengers including five members of the crew.
With the 2012 edition of the tournament taking place in Gabon, the players seemed possessed to eliminate any opponent in their path to the championship. And with the final match taking place at the Stade d’Angondjé in Libreville, not too far off from the scene of the crash, that seemed to invoke emotions that would propel the team to their first ever Afcon championship in honour of the players killed in the tragic accident 19 years before. The following year, in 2012, in South Africa, the defending champions were knocked off the tournament in the group stages and it was the same story, two years later in 2015.
But that same year in 2015, Renard was back at it leading Ivory Coast to their Afcon championships, becoming the first coach to win the Afcon tournament with two different nations.
Renard further went on to lead Morocco to the 2018 FIFA World Cup for the first time in 20 years.
He is said not to have been in the running in the first place but who knows?
Hugo Broos – Hugo who?
There isn’t much to write home about here. The 69-year-old has had a fair history of club success, coaching the likes of Anderlecht and KRC Genk in Belgium. But it is his record with the national teams. Cameroon is the only national team he has ever coached in his career. But then again, having taken the reins in Cameroon in 2016, he led the team to the Afcon championship. While that cannot be overlooked, is it enough to make him the best man for the Bafana Bafana job?
The truth is whoever gets appointed will be faced with the immediate task of getting the team ready in time for the second round of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers set to kick off in June. It needs to be someone who already knows the quality at hand and is ready to hit the ground running. None of the foreign-based coaches, including the highly-rated Queiroz, has those qualities. This is why Hunt and McCarthy are back in the running.
For more updates, watch this space…
– By Sipho ‘King K’ Kekana – SABC Digital News Senior Producer and Sports Analyst, @KingKAzania