Low profile Molefi Ntseki not a 'cheap option'‚ says Safa

Molefi Ntseki as the interim coach of Bafana Bafana during the South African National Football squad announcement at SAFA House on August 23, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Molefi Ntseki as the interim coach of Bafana Bafana during the South African National Football squad announcement at SAFA House on August 23, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Molefi Ntseki’s appointment as Bafana Bafana coach has nothing to do with picking a “cheap option”‚ Safa Acting CEO Russell Paul has said.

Ntseki‚ a background man for the national team who has had a low-key coaching career from its start 21 years ago‚ was the surprising appointment as replacement to Stuart Baxter at the South Africa Football Association’s (Safa) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting on Saturday.

It is surprising because he is possibly the lowest-profile‚ least publicly known Bafana coach to ever have been appointed‚ which would have seemed to make him a rank outsider next to other potential candidates Gavin Hunt‚ Benni McCarthy and Steve Komphela.

Surprising‚ too‚ for the uncharacteristic speed with which Safa moved on the appointment.

At most a shortlist had been expected from the NEC meeting at Safa House.

Instead‚ the Safa’s technical committee put forward one name‚ Ntseki’s‚ as a recommendation and the NEC were convinced enough to endorse it.

Paul then made a phone call to Ntseki‚ who already had publicly proclaimed his availability‚ who accepted the position.

The background nature of Ntseki’s career has already seen much public skepticism at such a low-profile appointment.

Paul said Ntseki was not a “cheap option” for the cash-strapped association‚ as has already been speculated.

“It’s not dealing with a cheap option‚ it’s dealing with the right person. And the right person could be expensive and he could be cheap‚” Safa’s acting CEO said.

“It’s not about money. You could argue that money does play an important role. But in this case we were dealing with what was good for the association‚ what was good for the players and what was good for the image.”

Paul said Ntseki can build his profile as Bafana coach.

“I think it’s our [Safa’s] responsibility to build up that profile. Because dealing with his profile‚ he has been involved with the national team for quite a while‚ so he’s not unknown to that area. “He has formed an integral part of the former coach Stuart Baxter’s team. And he has a great understanding of football. In terms of developing a profile moving forward‚ ja‚ he needs to deal with that on the playing field‚” Paul said.

Baxter resigned on August 2 following Bafana’s quarterfinal exit from the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in July.

Ntseki (50) had already been named caretaker Bafana coach for Saturday’s friendly against Zambia in Lusaka.

He now takes charge of that match as full-time head coach.

His head coaching experience includes as the national Under-17 boss‚ who he steered to runners-up at the 2015 Africa U-17 Championship and a group stage exit at the Fifa U-17 World Cup that year.

He started as head coach of Motsepe League team Welkom Eagles in 1998 and steered them to promotion to the National First Division in 2000.

He was co-founder of the Harmony Academy in the Free State‚ which produced current SuperSport United starlets Teboho Mokoena and Sipho Mbule.

As assistant-coach at Bloemfontein Celtic‚ Ntseki was again influential in discovering and promoting young players such as Thapelo Morena and Eric Mathoho.

He was assistant-coach to Serame Letsoaka’s Amajita who reached the last-16 of the Fifa World Cup in Egypt in 2009‚ many of whom – such as captain Thulani Hlatshwayo and midfielder Kamohelo Mokotjo – now star for Bafana.