Nkumane poised to steer Bafana to glory
Sipho Nkumane's meteoric rise in South African soccer administration should mark the dawn of a new era in the beautiful game.
His fresh blood and brains will undoubtedly add impetus to the Bafana Bafana set-up after the unassuming Nkumane was appointed the senior national team's new manager.
Nkumane was appointed this week, as Sowetan predicated, after being interviewed by SA Football (Ltd's) acting chief executive S'bu Mngadi.
He filled the position that became vacant after Stanley "Screamer" Tshabalala was "redeployed" to take charge of the junior national teams.
The burly Three River-based administrator admitted yesterday that he was in seventh heaven and was encouraged by his appointment as Bafana Bafana's manager.
Nkumane's appointment did not come as a surprise to many because he has proved his administrative savvy at Safa, where he was provincial affairs director.
"I would like to thank the SA Football (Ltd) board for the confidence they have shown in my administration expertise," said Nkumane.
"The good thing is that managing Bafana Bafana will not be something new to me, I managed the team in 2001 during the Cosafa Castle Cup.
"In the same year, I managed Amajita when we qualified for the African Youth Championships finals in Ethiopia.
"I would like to thank all the 52 regions of Safa for supporting me when I was in the provincial affairs and everybody who contributed to my success.
"I also want to thank Dr Molefi Oliphant (Safa president), who was a mentor to me during our days as executive members of Vaal Football Association (VFA).
"Dr Oliphant was the president of VFA for a four-year term. I served as the general secretary before he moved to Safa in 1997."
Nkumane's latest achievement is a massive step forward from 1991 where he started as general secretary of Sharpeville Soccer Association. At the time, Nkumane was also an administrator of Real X20, an amateur soccer club in Sharpeville that he also played for as a midfielder.
Real X20 is owned by soccer legend Simon "Bull" Lehoko's family.
Nkumane has also played in the various leagues like the Smirnoff League, Impala League and the Toyota Under-21 that were initiated by the flamboyant late Solomon "Stix" Morewa.
A promising diplomat, Nkumane is credited with the success of most of the 52 regional structures of Safa, where he enjoys massive support.
"Most of them treat me like their own brother as I sometimes get invited to some family events like weddings of their children," said Nkumane.
Nkumane, who has acted on several occasions as Safa chief executive, has also been rubbing shoulders with top Fifa and CAF leaders.
It did not come as a surprise when the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) roped him in to serve in their organising committee last month.
Oliphant was surprised at the CAF general assembly in Sudan in February when Bolaji Ojo Oba, Nigerian Football Association secretary general, enquired about Nkumane.
"Sipho is a big man in international football, almost everybody is enquiring about him when I attend meetings globally," said Oliphant.
Known as "The Blue" during his days as a soccer player, Nkumane said he would like to be remembered as somebody who contributed to the success of African soccer.