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Khumalo on what went wrong after 1996: Barker shouldn't have been discarded

Former Kaizer Chiefs assistant coach Doctor Khumalo.
Former Kaizer Chiefs assistant coach Doctor Khumalo.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Doctor Khumalo says South African football allowed “pride” and over-confidence dictate and made a mistake dismantling the Bafana Bafana 1996 Africa Cup of Nations-winning team too quickly‚ breaking the continuity of that team’s success.

In the 25 years since Bafana beat Tunisia 2-0 in the 1996 Nations Cup final at FNB Stadium on February 3‚ 1996‚ South Africa have never won the tournament again. They have only recently begun qualifying again‚ and quarterfinal placings as hosts in 2013 and at Egypt 2019 were the best performances since Mali 2002.

Khumalo said the knowledge and experience of 1996 coach Clive Barker – who turned Bafana around from no-hopers‚ nicknamed “4x4s” because of the number of four-goal thrashings they received on their return to international football from 1992 – was also too easily discarded.

Ex-Kaizer Chiefs midfield legend Khumalo believes Barker‚ who also qualified South Africa for their first World Cup – France 1998 – should have been kept in an advisory‚ or technical director‚ role.

Khumalo said the generation of John “Shoes” Moshoeu‚ Sizwe Motaung‚ Andre Arendse‚ Linda Buthelezi‚ Neil Tovey‚ Mark Fish and Eric Tinkler should have been retained longer to oversee the introduction of young blood.

“Look‚ there’s a quote that I posted on Instagram that it has never emerged where you see a team being crowned‚ and within a blink of an eye those champions are nowhere to be seen‚” Khumalo said.

“There was supposed to be a synergy‚ or a way of roping in incoming players with the very same mentality‚ [being done by] the very same players and keeping Clive‚ not even probably as a coach but [in another role].

“Remember‚ this is the man who changed the fortunes of Bafana – from ‘4x4s’ to a winning Bafana.

“Let me remind you also‚ we didn’t qualify for the 96 Afcon because we were the hosts – we had beaten Madagascar in our last game to qualify [before SA replaced Kenya as hosts]. And this is the man who beat DR Congo in Pointe Noire.

“Clive had two missions – to win the 96 Nations Cup and qualify for France 98. And we all thought‚ ‘He’s talking crap?’ And we won 96‚ and qualified for France.

“Now how do you separate that experience‚ and let alone separate‚ but do away with that? Did we ever ask Clive just for a conference‚ for him to present the system to South African coaches? How he worked with Jomo Sono and other coaches and Bra Phil [Setshedi].

“Why were Shoes and I given that role‚ and have Linda and Tinkler being destroyers‚ and have John Moeti coming from behind being what we call in the modern game a box-to-box player?

“Do you have anything that talks to you about that? No. But you go to Brazil – all the coaches have presented.

“So what I’m trying to say is that the chain was broken. And believe it or not there is no way in football you will succeed if you cut corners.

“We were the first batch of footballers who after readmission took the knock. We were novices in African football – beaten four‚ beaten four‚ beaten four. And after a few‚ we found the solution.

“But the very same people who found the solution‚ had sleepless nights‚ were getting four‚ were crowned 1996 champions.

“So the chain was broken. Somewhere‚ somehow we shouldn’t have let our pride dominate what our future entailed. We were just supposed to have done what the football programmes require.

“We lost it there. It has never been the same‚ after the 1998 World Cup.”

Khumalo said the experience of his generation could have been better utilised bringing through a talented next generation that included Benni McCarthy‚ Quinton Fortune‚ Jabu Mahlangu‚ Delron Buckley‚ Steve Lekoelea‚ Siyabonga Nomvete and Stanton Fredericks and who beat Brazil 3-1 at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Bafana’s decline from winning the 1996 Nations Cup saw them reach the 1998 final‚ 2000 semifinals‚ 2002 quarters‚ group stages in 2004‚ 2006 and 2008‚ and fail to qualify in 2010 and 2012.