For many, this was written on the wall for ages, and unlike the King of Babylon who needed Daniel’s help to interpret it, Pitso Mosimane had 48 million seers in the South African public.
The criticism ranging from poor team selection, substitutions, knowledge of the rules or the tournaments to the tactics of the day, even a man-sized ego could never be immune.
For starters, the South African national team coach was never friends with both the media and fans from day one.
Mosimane deputise Carlos Alberto Perreira leading to the South Africa FIFA World Cup, and a noble act was to continue with the team after understudying the coaching legend over two stints.
Learning from the best and implementing the tactics became two different things. Besides, even during the best times, Mosimane lacked the luck that goes with the job.
For most of the time, he was faced with the dilemma of injuries and injustices of the decisions that were not his own.
So many times he contended with off-form players who either warmed the bench overseas or underperformed locally. There is never a red-hot player in South Africa these days; not even in Zimbabwe, to really talk about.
The not-so-good ABSA Premier League was expected to produce sharp-shooters who could mesmerise tight African defences while they could not breach mediocre locals even at lower league.
The top strikers in the league are never close enough a talent to consider in any league in Africa or around the world. They are over-rated. They cannot beat goalkeepers over 20 times in the whole year.
The Bafana Bafana coach fumbled his way through his tenure with arrogance and sometimes ignorance, but then, how many people know the politics of the administrators’ arrangement in availing players for his service?
While the coach would be expected to call the players and liaise with the club coaches where the players ply their trade, it never is the case with local coaches, given the narrow scope of trust.
National association bosses always crave for the limelight, always wanting to be known to be talking to Steve Pienaar or Knowledge Musona. That leads to the rapport either being built around the bosses and leaves the coach out in the cold.
The contracts being drawn for national team duties get rarely revealed to the coach, and the players’ agenda on the pitch never translates to the manager’s expectation.
This two-camp phenomenon is a result of a colonial mentality that expatriates are better off in leading teams. Sad and pathetic as this may be, it is so true and logical as was seen in years gone by in Zimbabwe.
At their brightest moment, the Zimbabwe Warriors were mentored by the late Reinhard Fabisch of Germany. That incredible Dream Team did not play football for Zimbabwe. They played for Fabisch. In turn, Fabisch did not serve the Zimbabwe Football Association. He served his players.
That rapport never existed, or was never allowed to be built between Pitso and his players. At any national team in Africa, any budding relationship of that nature is nipped out in the bud before it can be anything ‘mercenary’ to the leadership.
Foreign coaches enjoy the liberty to stretch their luck and get away with it as most of the issues are tied down on the contract. Pitso must have had a good contract of course, but always carried that monkey of favouring certain players he was claimed to ‘own’ so he could ‘sell’ to overseas markets.
To me, that was media fabrications that were unwarranted. The coach’s influence on the affairs of the team was never promoted by his employers. The players never played for the coach and but fought against the leadership, albeit on the pitch.
National success to Katlego Mphela, Simphiwe Tshabalala never affected their careers in any way. It never impacted on their incomes. What was there for them really? In Itumeleng Khune, first team football at Kaizer Chiefs seems his priority, given that his deputy is a cut above him.
Frankly, I believe Arthur Bartman should be goalkeeping ahead of Khune. Moeneeb Josephs has reliability issues and inexperienced at national level, but who else is worth a second look?
Mediocrity became acceptable to all and even by the media. It must be noted that save for Everton’s Pienaar, none of the internationals enjoyed first team football on a regular basis. Admittedly, Tshepo Masislela contended with injuries, but going one by one and case by case, it is possible to come up with some acceptable excuse.
The bottom line is that the coach has been fired for playing badly and losing. It is that the next coach can be local and foreign, but the same substandard material Pitso had at his disposal will be around for a while.
As usual in my space and yours, the great performances always get linked with the players while non-performance is always blamed on the coach.
I would agree on any day that Pitso could have done better, and that he should have gone at this point, but surely, I would disagree to take the same job with the same players, if the deal is that I must produce results.