South Africa: Joel Santana is feeling the heat

The national squad’s performances isn’t impressing the FIFA head.
Sepp Blatter, president of world soccer governing body Fifa, says he is “really disappointed” at the abysmal showing of Bafana Bafana, and plans some straight talking with local soccer bosses on the issue.
An implicit condemnation of Joel Santana’s managerial career.
In Brazil we trust. The SAFA is coming of looking like a bunch of chumps who vetted Santana as rigorously as John McCain did Sarah Palin. Not. His certification was provided by Alberto Parreira, the previous manager and fellow Brazilian, who strung along SAFA and made some big money in the process. It’s called a con job and SAFA bought it whole.
Santana’s record; he managed 27 clubs in 27 years. He won state titles and never managed a national side. Which does not make him a bad coach, just an untested one. So unknown was he, when appointed as manager, the CEO of SAFA, Raymond Hack mistakenly introduced him as Carlos Santana. An amusing slip. But maybe a few incendiary riffs from the legendary guitarist would have provided the perfect wake up call for an attack which seems to have lapsed into eternal somnolence under his less charismatic namesake.
How bad is it? When Jomo Sono and Clive Barker, two of SA’s outstanding managers say that they have lost confidence in Santana’s abilities, it is time to pull the plug. Of course, as is the case, the people most in denial are the ones who fell for Parreira’s bait, Raymond Hack and outgoing SAFA president Molefi Oliphant.
The acid test should have been SA’s ability to qualify for the ACN. This was important for a squad with few competitive options. The ACN would have given a chance to meet some quality opposition in nations like Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt and Cote D’Ivoire. But Santana’s squad never made it, falling to Nigeria. He should have been sacked right away.
It is befuddling that a nation spending billions of rands on World Cup infrastructure should shortchange its national squad so. Yes, a longstanding criticism of this team is its ineptness in scoring goals but SAFA should have tried going in for someone who could communicate effectively with a proven record of success as a tactician. Someone willing to take chances and help the moribund attack produce.
You only have to look home to find Clive Barker, the manager who led them to the 1996 ACN title or Jomo Sono who managed the incredible feat of leading them to the final of the 1998 ACN after SAFA fired Philip Troussier on the cusp of the tournament. Homegrown managers in African nations like Samson Siasa and and Hassan Shehata, have led Nigeria and Egypt to recent success.
For the naysayers who dispute that national talent would not be enough to take them to the next level, SAFA could have courted the likes of Marcelo Lippi or Juergen Klinsmann, till recently available. Both are excellent motivators and both believe that attack is the best form of defence. If these two were unavailable, Zico should have been tapped, if blind faith meant going Brazilian.
Santana’s saving grace is that there are now a bunch of friendlies which will further reduce expectations on him. He only real test is the Confederation Cup which SA barely qualified for and provides some quality international competition with Spain, Italy, and Brazil’s participation. At this point Otto Pfister, the original rolling stone looks like a better bet. He managed Cameroun into the ACN final against Egypt this year.

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