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The feel good factor has been missing - Fish 25/03/04
Charlton Athletic and former Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates defender Mark Fish says that he thinks the 'feel good factor of playing for South Africa has been missing for a while'

The eagerly anticipated clash between Bafana Bafana and Australia is nearly upon us. As part of the build up to the match in London, Thapelo Moloantoa of Shibobo Football (www.southafricatimes.co.uk/shibobo.html) caught up with Mark Fish of Chartlon Athletic to get his views on the national setup.

The interview was done before the former Orlando Pirates and Bafana Bafana defender went on to injure himself in a freak accident at his house, but nevertheless he offers some interesting insights into South African soccer.

Could you please tell us what were the main points discussed with SAFA executives on their recent visit to you?

I just expressed my issue with them about the request not to be included in national matches for a few games, four or five games and their reaction to this.

I spoke to them about the fact that we need to be more organised and professional about some things, like avoiding a situation where we have money issues discussed a night before a game, which is unacceptable.

We have a situation where the feel good factor of playing for your country has been missing for a while and I want this to be back for myself and for every other player thats called up.

Jomo called me up for the World Cup in Japan and also for the friendly against England in Durban last year but I was unable to make these games as I was injured.

I spoke to them about the fact that we need managers to be more lenient with us players, as this will benefit the clubs as well. We shouldn't be called up for games against countries like Mauritius (no disrespect to them), but we should be playing more competitive countries, playing against the best players in the world like Spain, England, Brazil etc.

Are you available for selection for the game against Australia March 30 at Loftus Road London? (The player has since been forced to pull out of the game due to his injury, but has been included in the team as a 'special guest' of Safa.

If fit and able to play come that time then I will be ready to don my national colours. It will up to the manager to make this decision but I will love to be in included in that team

Whom do you think should be appointed as the next Bafana manager? Should it be a foreign or local coach and why do you think so? (English coach Stuart Baxter has since been appointed as the new Bafana Bafana coach)

Since I haven't played for Bafana for a while now, I haven't followed the PSL that closely so I cannot pinpoint a local coach for the Bafana hot seat.

Nevertheless we need a manager who has great experience and track record in African football. Someone who understands the dynamics of our football, such as Claude Le Roy (led Cameroon at France 98 World Cup) and Roger Lemerre (led Tunisia to Africa Nations Cup 2004 Finals win).

We don't need to have a coach who will split the team like Philip Troussier, who divided the team between the overseas and locally based players. Jomo Sono on the other hand tried his best to merge this divide. He understands South African football and players right through.

I didnt have a chance to work that much with current Real Madrid coach Carlos Quieroz when he was in charge of Bafana but from I heard from Shaun he was one of the best Bafana ever had as a manager.

We need a coach who everybody must be looking forward to report for, not somebody who will want to compete with the players as we've seen in the past.

A manager that will seek to nurture mutual respect between himself, the federation, the fans, the nation and the players.

Are you willing to commit yourself to the Bafana campaign for the 2006 Africa Nations Cup and World Cup?

This is all dependent on SAFA but from my side if fit I am willing to play every game. It is important that we qualify for these two competitions as it presents us with a new challenge. I regard these two competitions highly.

Mark Fish profile

Plenty of Premiership clubs were sniffing around Fish but he opted to join Bolton Wanderers from Italian Serie A side Lazio for a £2million fee in August 1997.

He became unsettled as Bolton struggled to return to the Premiership after relegation and he joined Charlton Athletic for £700,000 in November 2000 and became a regular in the side.

Born in Cape Town, Fish began his career with Arcadia Shepherds and made his debut for Jomo Cosmos in 1992. He then moved to the Orlando Pirates in 1993 - where he spent three-years before turning down Manchester United for a move to Lazio.

The retired South African international racked up 60 caps and won the African Nations Cup and Super Cup in 1996, the Four Nations Cup in 1995 and 1996 and the African Champions Cup in 1995.

Made his Charlton debut in a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Ipswich Town, and soon became a vital player in Alan Curbishley's side.

Netted his first goal against former Manchester United. However, his 2001/02 season finished in mid-February after a knee injury sustained in training ended his campaign. By that time had made more than 50 appearances for the club.


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