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27 years, 27 coaches: What is Safa doing wrong?

00:03 GMT+3 08/08/2019
Danny Jordaan, Safa President
The South African Football Association have parted ways with yet another permanent coach, but is it time they took a look at themselves?

South Africa are again on the hunt for a new permanent manager, having parted ways with Stuart Baxter after just two years at the helm of Bafana Bafana.

Molefi Ntseki has been named as the national side's interim coach, but his arrival cannot overshadow the underlying problems faced by the South African Football Association and the void that has been left in the technical team.

On average, including interims, Bafana coaches have lasted a year each, with Clive Barker's three-year reign between 1994 and 1997 standing out.

Ntseki's arrival represents the 27th different reign of a new coach since readmission in 1992, and there is clearly a climate of instability.

Of the 26 previous coaches since readmission, 19 were appointed permanently, but South Africa are yet to truly realise their potential and build on the foundations laid by Barker in the mid-90s.

Here's where things have gone wrong for Safa, and the areas where the country's footballing governing body must improve if they're to put an end to the ongoing malaise.

Flawed recruitment policy 

In as much as the nation should accept that Bafana Bafana has been underperforming even with our best players in the team, the issue of coaches who messed up the team because of Safa's flawed recruitment policy should also be addressed going forward.     

Safa has been looking at the wrong places when recruiting permanent coaches. 

At times, they just took anyone who was available for the sake of appointing someone. Joel Santana is the perfect example of this flawed recruitment policy between 2008 and 2009; he got the job because Carlos Parreira said he was the right man for the job, and Safa took his word as gospel when they should have done the background check as to whether or not he would take South Africa to greater heights. 

His appointment came on the eve of the 2008 Afcon tournament, and the man was just not ready for the job, with Bafana subsquently crashing out in the group stages. 

At one stage during Santana's tenure, Bafana lost eight out of nine matches and won just one, which was against Madagascar.      

Remember how the late Ted Dumitru was parachuted into the 2006 edition of Afcon in Egypt as head coach of Bafana?

His appointment too proved costly, as Bafana failed to even score a single goal at the tournament itself. Take nothing away from Dumitru - he was a great manager, but he had little time to prepare the team yet Safa expected him to perform miracles two months before the tournament. 

Safa could have easily allowed Baxter's assistant at the time, Steve Komphela, to continue with the project as he had worked with the majority of players who had been part of the setup, but a poor decision was made, and Bafana paid the price.

However, this is a problem that existed before the current leadership ascended to power. 

In 1998, Philippe Troussier took Bafana Bafana to France, replacing Jomo Sono who had been appointed in the interim to take charge of the team at Afcon finals the same year. 

At the time, Troussier had just been sacked by Nigeria and Burkina Faso in quick succession, and the global showpiece in France was just three months away. There were doubts about whether he had lost touch with South African football after leaving Kaizer Chiefs in 1994, but Safa still gave him the job when they should have allowed Sono to continue as head coach, especially after helping Bafana reach the tournament.

To make matters worse, Troussier was only in charge of four games before Safa decided to make another change to the coaching department.  

Sono had laid a solid foundation for the 1998 Fifa World Cup and he understood the players better, but Safa saw the need to recruit a new coach because they just didn't have faith in the Jomo Cosmos boss.         

Since then, Safa have chopped and changed coaches, often without proper explanation.

Safa's impatience with coaches 

Pitso Mosimane was handed the job soon after the 2010 Fifa World Cup on home soil, but he was fired after two years. This was immediately after Bafana's draw against Ethiopia in Rustenburg. 

The only coach who wasn't fired is Gordon Igesund, who, despite making progress with the little resources he had, was cut loose after Safa opted not to renew his two-year deal.

Safa also showed little patience with Shakes Mashaba when they sacked him December 2016, with the irreparable relationship between coach and football association overshadowing a huge World Cup qualifying result against Senegal.  

Again, Safa couldn't find the solution and iron out whatever issues the leadership had with Mashaba, and while, at the time, the national side appeared to be heading in the right direction, playing exciting football, getting positive results, they were soon back at the drawing board.

Failure to help coaches succeed

Just before the start of Afcon 2019, Safa failed to secure enough warm-up matches for Bafana, and this didn't sit with well with Baxter who admitted that someone in the organisation wasn't doing their work. 

This is the kind of sabotage that Baxter had to endure, and it was evident during the tournament itself, as South Africa were undercooked and ill-prepared for the continental games, with Baxter repeatedly claiming that the team were using the group stage as preparation for the knockouts.

Baxter certainly made his mistakes by insisting on playing direct football with no flair, questionable tactics, squad and team selection decisions, but did he truly get the help he needed?

There were several European-based players who Baxter had identified and wanted to include in the team, including Swiss-based defender Joel Untersee and Crystal Palace's Nikola Tavares, but Safa couldn't get the documentation done and ensure the players were secured.

It was yet another case where limitations and failing in the federation had negative consequences on the manager's ability to do his job, and Bafana ultimately ended up paying the price on the pitch.

Until Safa resolve these factors, and others that have been reported, Bafana supporters should expect the uncertainty and instability to persist.