Monday, 4 June 2012

When "What Can I Do?" simply isn't enough: the Pitso Mosimane story

The people have spoken: Pitso Mosimane

LIKE a character in a Nando’s advert, Pitso Mosimane could go up in smoke at any time, detonated amid a wave of drawophobia from a frustrated football-speaking nation.
The Bafana Bafana boss knew the writing was on the wall on Sunday night, after a yet another disappointing draw – this time a 1-1 stalemate against FIFA’s 138th-best country Ethiopia to open his first World Cup qualifying campaign.
Brazil 2014 seemed a long way off for all of us on Sunday night. For Mosimane, the 47-year-old from Kagiso, Rio de Janeiro may now be off the agenda after failing to win for nine games and pleading: “What can I do?”
Mosimane’s international coaching tensure could be barely more substantial than his 4-cap playing career for Bafana nearly ten years ago. Though I argued on eTV Sunrise and eNews yesterday that he should stay in charge for the second game against Botswana on Saturday, SAFA called an emergency meeting at their NASREC headquarters at 9am to discuss the future of the former Cosmos and Sundowns journeyman.
Eight hours later, Gordon Igesund had emerged as the favored candidate with Pitso back in Phokeng with the squad amid whispers of government intervention from Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula and Irvin Khoza on the warpath. Igesund is out of contract with Moroka Swallows at the end of the month and according to "negotiations are taking place" with SAFA.
As I write, that SAFA meeting is ongoing – perhaps his articulate assistant Steve Komphela is adding his input. By 11am, after 13 hours of dithering, SAFA had still failed to release anything official with a spokesman saying "there are procedures to be followed."
Komphela, the Free State Stars miracle-worker appointed by SAFA three months ago, may take over in Gaberone if Pitso goes up in smoke. The people’s choice, Igesund, remains in China on tour with his rebuilt Moroka Swallows but may still have time to take charge before Sunday. Gavin Hunt and Shakes Mashaba have also been mentioned. At least, as the social networks said yesterday, Komphela talks a good game.
And really, that was always Pitso’s problem. As No2 during the World Cup in 2010, he was friendly enough. But by the time he took over from Carlos Alberto Ferreira, the whispers had begun.
The non-qualifying celebrations after that infamous draw against Sierra Leone should have been the end of course. I remember asking a former team-mate and television analyst why nobody had told Pitso he needed a win rather than a draw to reach AFCON2012. He said: “I never speak to Pitso. Since he became Bafana boss he’s deleted my number from his phone and he never returns my calls.”
Since then of course, Bafana have failed to win again and again. Few were distracted by the non-payment of the sangoma who claimed to be responsible. And though South Africa produced a near-heroic final half-hour at the Royal Bafokeng Palace on Sunday, the winner just wouldn’t come after the alleged killer Katlego Mphela’s 77th-minute equaliser.
It was, to put it mildly, a Phokeng disappointment.
And Mosimane’s post-match efforts to justify his shortcomings were hardly glittering.
He said: “It is not for me to say whether I must stay or go. I don't even have to respond to what people say. The pressure is there and it will always be there. But we still have 15 points to play for, okay?
"Botswana won’t be easy but the team is fighting. It’s not as if we are losing. No, no, there is a little bit of integrity. We believe we can take three points in Botswana on Sunday.
"What can I do? The usual story happened, chances were created but we didn't take them. How do I sort out the problems of South African football? Siyabonga Nomvete has scored the most goals this season and I had him in the team.
“He scored 20 for Moroka Swallows. And we created chances, Hey! Let's have fair play. You see, in South Africa we don't want to accept reality.
“Things have not been going well for us since we won the 1996 Cup of Nations – but we still don’t change the formula. The world is catching up with us. We don't want to accept that we are not scoring goals. We don't want to accept that our development programmes are not good.
"It took Spain 80 years to win the World Cup, but they had to change. We don't change the formula yet we expect different results. Let’s be shrewd. Whether I'm here or not they will miss the chances.”
So we don’t know who will be Bafana boss in Botswana on Sunday (live at 3pm on SABC1). But here’s my suggested eleven to face the guns of Gaberone – with Nomvethe reduced to an impact substitute and Reneilwe Letsholonyane rested after a season marred by injury: Sandilands, Gaxa, Masenamela, Mathoho, Gould, Jali, Mahlangu, Pienaar, Modise, Mphela, Rodgers (or Serero if he's over bereavement).


  1. "The world is catching up with us." !! See why I love post-match interviews? See? I always get the impression Pitso has his post-match talk ready before the match. Who actually knew it took Spain 80 years to win the WC?
    "..but we still don’t change the formula" - which, in case you didn't know, he has been advocating for since he was installed heir apparent to Parreira/Santana.

  2. Thanks for comment Stephen... actually feel sorry for Pitso, as I said on telly this morning (twice) he should have had that final chance in Botswana>>

  3. I think good pitso must go he is one of the most arrogant and self-estemed coaches i have ever seen really!! the only difference between him and mourinho is that the latter does win games, you can see how this indivisuals conduct interviews they don't want to admit defeat, its either the ref or that to blame not them.

  4. Themba, just not sure anybody better than Pitso is readily available. And still no word from SAFA. Perhaps they've gone to penalties.

    1. I think they should bring an unknown foreigner, it will quell tensions from the team and the public alike. while SAFA tries to reconstruct the football infrastructure in the country by bringing in soccer experts and consultants from the best countries like germany,they should ask them how they do it. SAFA has money for such tasks.

  5. I somehow was willing to accept the draw,until his post match comments. Unbelievable for a snr national team coach. Pitso is big headed,he needs to go period.