Rhoo is worth a flutter
SO IT seems Lucas Radebe, Fani Madida and Doctor Khumalo will join the Bafana technical team. Is this a psychological masterstroke by Safa and new coach Gordon Igesund - or a desperate, sentimental attempt to party like it's 1996?
All three were exceptional footballers, but that doesn't necessarily translate into coaching ability. Very often, it doesn't. As Arrigo Sacchi said, a good jockey doesn't have to have been born a horse. And as police head Riya Phiyega said (more or less), a good bottle store manager doesn't have to be a former alcoholic.
If reports of the trio's recruitment are confirmed then Safa may have overcooked its new "local is lekker" strategic recipe.
There is no doubt Igesund is the right man for the Bafana job, despite his lack of international experience. He is calm, thorough, diplomatic and affirmative (in the old sense of the word), with a proven feel for winning. But how much value would Radebe, Madida and Khumalo bring to the World Cup qualification mission?
Radebe is a worthy addition.
He has shown little appetite for coaching since his retirement, nor has he gained much administrative experience to prepare him for the team manager's role that has apparently been earmarked for him. In recent years he has become something of an endorsoholic, lending his toothy grin to a trolleyload of brands.
But he was such a commanding footballer, and is so well liked by so many, that his presence in the Bafana camp would surely be inspirational. "Rhoo" would represent an era when Bafana were a formidable side. He could have a quiet chat with any bolshy PSL-based internationals who reckon they have made it, and could offer a tip or two on defensive technique.
Khumalo was probably even more gifted than Radebe as a player, though he never properly expressed his brilliance abroad. And he has coached on and off for several years with Kaizer Chiefs, mainly at youth level. But his ability remains unproven, to put it mildly.
This year, "16V" endured a nightmarish tenure as Kaizer Chiefs joint caretaker coach alongside Ace Khuse after Vladimir Vermezovic got the sack. When any unpopular coach departs, there is almost invariably a spike in performance, with player morale boosted by the relief of regime change. There was nothing of the sort when Khumalo and Khuse took over. In fact, the results worsened.
Khumalo is likeable, too, but his pedestrian punditry on Supersport does not suggest he can transmit football ideas as precisely and creatively as he could transmit a football.
To Madida's credit, he has eschewed the temptations of TV work and stuck to the hard graft of real-world coaching. He has served as assistant to Muhsin Ertugral at Kaizer Chiefs, and, more recently, as assistant to Roger Palmgren at Amazulu, who were a well-organised, disciplined side last season.
If he has a good rapport with Igesund, Madida may be the right man for the assistant coach's job.
But, as a triple whammy, the appointments resemble a Kaizer Chiefs outreach project. All three starred for Amakhosi as players, and Orlando Pirates fans will not be impressed. It's all a bit silly, but these things have to be considered.
The problem for Safa is that Steve Komphela, widely tipped to be Igesund's assistant, was not an option because he is set to become technical director. And there is an understandable impulse at Safa House to appoint an emerging black coach to assist Igesund.
But Safa seems to be going for quantity over quality.
The boldest, most popular solution would be to make Radebe the sole assistant coach. Yes, we don't know whether he can coach - but on the other hand, we don't know that he can't. And there are no compelling rivals.