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READER’S VIEW: Cast the net wider

Posted: 7 July 2014 Time: 15:11 reader Tshepo Letsoalo provides an argument against only looking at local candidates for the vacant Bafana Bafana position.

I read a very interesting, and well written article by an avid Bafana Bafana fan who is adamant that hiring a foreign coach for our disgraced national team would be the wrong move. I beg to differ … but only slightly. My point of view on the issue is that the best man for the job should be placed in the position IRRESPECTIVE of nationality.

READ: Reader's View: Not another foreign coach!

We tend to view sport in a different light to other professions, and rightly so because it is vastly different in terms of expectation and entertainment value in comparison to a ‘normal’ 9-5 job. However, there are times where we should apply ‘normal’ employment practices to sport. One of these practices means employing the right people in the right positions in order for them to affect change positively. If these people are South African, GREAT. If we have to source foreign talent then also GREAT, as long as the people are ably qualified to do the job. We tend to look at sport as an insular entity because of its engrossing and elevated nature for the reason that it drives so much of our nation’s emotions. But we needn’t forget that it is a corporate, professional being that needs to be managed as such. And one of these ways is by refining our employment practices to ensure that we hire the people best for the job. Nationality should not be a defining criteria for any position.

The writer in the article mentioned above also made the argument that all countries that have won the World Cup had local coaches. Fair point. However, this argument is slightly flawed for two reasons. The first of these is that all the countries that have won the World Cup are traditionally strong football nations. Brazil, Italy, Germany, Argentina, Spain etc. are all great footballing nations. They may have won the tournament in years they were not favourites but ultimately none of those countries’ winning could be labelled a real shock or against the odds. I will not argue with facts but simply the point that I am making is that an ably qualified foreign coach could have led those countries to the World Cup as well. Also, because these countries are strong football nations with good structures and competitive leagues, there would be less reason for them to look externally for coaches.

Secondly, I also took the liberty of looking at the past winners and respective coaches of the countries that have won the Africa Cup of Nations since 1994:

1994 - Nigeria - Clemens Westerhof (Netherlands)

1996 - South Africa - Clive Barker

1998 - Egypt - Mohamed Al Gohari

2000 - Cameroon - Pierre Lechantre (France)

2002 - Cameroon - Winfried Schafer (Germany)

2004 - Tunisia - Roger Lemerre (France)

2006 - Egypt - Hassan Shehata

2008 - Egypt - Hassan Shehata

2010 - Egypt - Hassan Shehata

2012 - Zambia - Herve Renard (France)

Even split. 5 wins by foreign coaches. 5 by local coach (3 by the same coach). Certainly no evidence that a local coach is better suited to guide their nation to victory. In fact, it is damning that the five foreign coaches who have won are from Europe, a continent we often condemn as having little understanding of our footballing philosophy and culture.

This leads me to another point around culture. Admittedly each country has its own culture and preferred method of play but football has grown to be so universal that there is a cross-pollination of cultures which forces coaches to adopt varying tactics irrespective of the culture of the country. For instance, Brazil are known for their flamboyant ‘samba' philosophy, but if one looks at the Brazil team of the past few years it would be a stretch to say they still play ‘samba’ football - they have adopted a 4-2-3-1 which came to prominence in the '90s and emanated from Spanish football – a European country. Not to labour the point but what I am saying is that as important as it is to maintain an identity and philosophy that is native to a nation, we need to accept that football is universal and in order to grow we have to adopt foreign policies (tactics, philosophies, coaching methods).

Instead of confining our search to a local coach, we need to spread the net throughout the global village to try find the best man for the job based on qualifications, vision and ability to develop youth structures. That is my overarching point. If this person is deemed to be local then GREAT, if it is a foreign coach then also GREAT. It would be further damaging to our football to dismiss European coaches with extensive pedigree and records of success for a local coach simply because he knows our culture. The job is bigger than that.

Ultimately though, the bigger issue here is around development and proper administration of our football structures, as mentioned by the writer of the previous article.

By Tshepo Letsoalo

READ: Reader's View: Not another foreign coach!


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Livefyre comments on this story...

posted: 2014-07-07 13:33:38

Good article, but may I point that you and the previous Bafana fan who supports local coaches neglect one thing... your arguments are based on a wrong notion that South African football has philosophy and culture, which is wrong. If we have the latter, then they are not realised; not even in our PSL do we find such philosophy and culture... maybe we used to have it, but no more.

posted: 2014-07-07 13:40:26

Thank you Mr Letsoalo, for the first time our kick off journalist has spoken something meaty.... i agree with your statement fully. and from my side i would be very happy if safa elects Herve Renard as our coach to take us to the afcon and the world cup qualifiers, i think he can instill discipline and make our players to work hard for their nation.

posted: 2014-07-07 14:22:36

I like how tshepo ends on the last paragraph mentioning development and administration.the latter is important because even if we get a good foreign coach like we did with parreira we won't win anything as he cried about proper development and singled out moriri as a good player.shakes won cosafa cups with amajita and bafana using largerly those players and I must say with shakes there isn't any shortage of good looking football in the national teams.he further qualified for the african nations cup with largerly home based players because european based players wanted guaranteed game time at afcon ,safa(administration) agreed with them and fired shakes.he never failed.the point is development is a word used because psl coaches fail to use teenagers and introduce them to many tactics with each match demands whereas in other countries it is not so.south africa has talent and many players are developed but not introduced early in the league.when a coach changes tactics it will be hard for a player who has only played for first psl team at 26 and introduced to bafana a year later because he hasn't really got much coaching at a game situation hence we cry of development not because there isn't any talent but because psl coaches are scared to introduce teenage stars in a competitive match.national coaches work on combinations and tactics and not explaining formations to mid 20 year olds who should have at least 7 years psl playing experience.

posted: 2014-07-07 14:22:50

This a better argument than that hogwash. It took spain more that 70 years before wining world cup. Basing argument on wining the world cup is just not clever

tholokabomo-Tell no lies, Claim no easy victories
posted: 2014-07-07 15:42:51

phetso3 Oh this the reader's point of view not KO

tholokabomo-Tell no lies, Claim no easy victories
posted: 2014-07-07 16:02:26

I believe that both readers view have merit and are well researched. As I commented on the previously I will prefer  if the Boss coach us. As much as we may want to look within the country there is nobody who comes out and say "me me me me me me". The only candidates left are Hunt and Bra Shakes. Bra Shakes like to fight with the establish forgetting that even if you are fighting for the good you need to pick the time, the people and the place.  As for Hunt he is a winner with small teams. If he is to be give freedom to chose his team and he chose the players that will do the job for him he will end up selecting the people who will alienate the public as you need to have  Chiefs, Pirates and Sundowns players for the public to buy into your team. That for me makes it difficult to say the two can coach our team. But if we go foreign we need someone who is not going to patronize us. We don't need someone like Baxter who keep threatening that he leave the job because the public is bunch of idiots who don't know what football is.

posted: 2014-07-07 21:16:07

Mr Letsoalo, you make very valid points. Though I would have loved to read how those very same foreign coaches fared with their respective adopted nations on the world stage. I deliberately shied away from making arguments for Bafana Bafana on the AFCON stage because that's a terrain that we've already competed on and conqured at some point. The crux of my point was simple, it seems to me that SAFA hires coaches on a criteria that is not in line with world trends, historical data, which would all be in line with the future success of our team. Over the last decades our coaches have been hired when our administrators are in panic mode, and they want results yesterday and that is not going to work. I always say that hope is not a plan, for as long as we hire coaches without a clear vision and a clear plan, unfortunately we will continue on this downward spiral. Right now is not the time for easy-fix solutions, those have been done already, ie Santana, Carlos Alberto Parreira...until we have administrators who will face this reality, we can all just lay back and accept that we don't have a competitive national football team.

posted: 2014-07-07 22:25:16

I agree with dooba here,to say let's get someone who understands our culture n philosophy is misleading. Most people believe in 4-4-2 system because we had our little past glories with it but look at all Psl teams n tell me 3 teams that use it. We can get a local coach n use the 4-4-2 but then will we be able to cope against teams that can change formations when 1 substitute is made. As bafana bafana we are rock bottom and our trusted players are old and out of sorts(tshabalala,letsholonyane,sangweni,dikgacoi,etc) we need a coach who has the patience to come and give us an identity and instill belief like Ruud Krol did with Pirates.Let him build a squad of players ageing 27 n below wich will allow him to fuse youth with a lil experience. As for mandates,at this Afcon just go beyond group stage n on the 2nd Afcon years later reach semis or win it,as for the world cup qualification would be a bonus..

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