As the season comes to a close one is tempted to raise a very disappointing observation in relation to local coaches and the performaces of their teams.
The current log standings paint a very disappointing picture for local coaches. All teams with a reasonable chance of winning the league are coached by foreign coaches. What is particularly disturbing is that there is always a clamor for the very same teams to "take the lead" and appoint local coaches.
Beyond all the emotional pleas and politicization of the issue that local coaches be given an opportunity to lead these big teams, the statistics indicate otherwise.
The only local coach who has done nothing but covered himself in glory is Gordon Igesund. "His teams never played entertaining football!", "He played kick and rush football!" These are the arguments that quickly come to mind when you mention his name as the most successful local coach of recent times.
Let's take his Pirates tenure as an example. He was given a mandate to win the league, he developed a plan and he ensured that his teams played to the last detail of his plan. He played "boring, kick and rush" football and come the end of the season, who was crowned champions of the League? Orlando Pirates!!
When Kaizer Chiefs won the League in 2003/2004, they were not the most entertaining outfit in the country, SuperSport United was! However they based most of their play in conceding minimum goals. Recently when SuperSport United won the SAA Super 8, they played one of the most boring yet effective styles of football. Golden Arrows are renowned for their good passing and possession football style. Where are they on the League table?
This is by no means an advocacy for local coaches to adopt "boring football approach" to win the league or cups. If you were to go down the memory lane, you will note that Sundowns won the League playing one of the best brands of entertaining football you can ever come across in South Africa! Theirs was flair mixed with discipline and they had players who could maximize the potential that was and still is available in an African player. Those kind of players are still available in South Africa!
There are two teams in particular that make me hot under the collar. Their continuous self doubt has ensured that they forever live in the shadows of the top three teams. The teams are Moroka Swallows and SuperSport United.
SuperSport has mastered a tendency of being a half season team. They are brilliant in either the first half or the second half of the season. Never the entire season!!! They have the players, material and the infrastructure to do this continuously.
If one had noticed the kind of form they produced in the last 11 games of the last season (2003/2004), I'm sure you'd be disappointed to note that they are not up there with the best, competing for the league honours.
Of the players who had an impact on their success last season, only Dennis Masina is missing from that well oiled machinery, yet they can't reproduce half the kind of form they showed in that time. As to why they fail to be consistent is one area that the technical staff should have noted and have developed a programme to address it.
The issue of teams participating in African Competitions and this taking its toll on the players come with the territory of modern football. When teams plan to participate in the League with the hope of winning the championship, they know that they will have to compete in these continental competitions. One would expect that the necessary planning takes place in trying to ensure that the effects of ventures don't become unbearable on the team.
Moroka Swallows!! You will never find a team that is the sole owner of self destruction anywhere in the world. How do they always find it easy to let their best players go on an annual basis baffles me. I wonder who is to blame here, the coach or the salary payers?
It started with Peter Matshitse, then Naughty Mokoena, Japhet Zwane, Jabulani Mendu, Lucas Sebona and now Lungisani Ndlela. I wonder how long will they be able to hold on to Edzai Kasinaiyo or a fit Peter Pietersen. As if that was not enough, you have them fighting over the administration of a team which by far compares favourably to the best in the PSL.
Nobody remembers also-rans, only winners! If SuperSport were to eradicate their chronic disease of playing only half the season and Swallows were to take a critical look at themselves, they would then make the case of the advancement of local coaches more compelling.
How you'd wish one day that you go to a game where Farouk Khan will be leading Kaizer Chiefs against Tebogo Moloi's Orlando Pirates for league decider. Or better still Pitso Mosimane coaching the Senior National Team, on merit, against Portugal in a World Cup match.
These things can only happen if the support for the local coaches doesn't only come from the media. The teams themselves should lead the way in wholeheartedly supporting the local coaches. We always hear Kaizer Motaung, Dr Irvin Khoza and Patrice Motsepe advocating investment in local products for the betterment of the country.
What role do they have to play in fast-tracking the development of local coaches to international standards? Mr Motsepe missed a golden opportunity to lead in this regard when he appointed Angelo Cappa Head Coach instead of Khabo Zondo. I dare Mr Motaung to read Ted Dimitru's last rites as a Head Coach and allow Farouk Kahn to take over.
Dr. Khoza, you still have a plethora of coaches to choose from who are local. One Roger de Sa spring to mind in this regard. What Mr Motsepe must do is get one local coach to assist Cappa with a clear mandate to Cappa that he must nurture him for the day he will be taking over. Does the name Sam Mbatha ring a bell?
Much as we say local coaches must be given a chance to succeed they also have to ensure that they not only participate but compete! With the necessary support and guidance from the "Champions of African Renaissance" (read Khoza, Motaung and Motsepe) we will not be having a Stuart Baxter-like furore in a near future. This is a multi pronged fork that needs people to be honest with themselves first and be doyens of Progress!