Will it be Pitso or Benni after Baxter?

17 March 2019 - 13:56
By XOLILE MTSHAZO
Cape Town City coach Benni McCarthy and Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane are the frontrunners in  the race for the  next Bafana coach.
Image: Gallo Images/ Lefty Shivambu Cape Town City coach Benni McCarthy and Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane are the frontrunners in the race for the next Bafana coach.

Former Bafana Bafana striker Benni McCarthy, now mentor of PSL outfit Cape Town City, could take over the national team coaching reins from incumbent Stuart Baxter as early as July.

The Bafana legend who is renowned for scoring four goals in 13 minutes against Namibia at the 1998 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals in Burkina Faso, played under Baxter during the English coach's first stint with Bafana.

McCarthy, 41, has shown a keen interest in the job and as an ambitious young coach with the right credentials - he holds a Uefa Pro coaching licence - nothing can stop him from taking over in future.

But many pundits believe it is far-fetched to link McCarthy with the job simply because he has shown interest. Nonetheless, McCarthy himself has on numerous occasions said that his ambitions are not limited to club coaching.

Decorated during and after his playing career, the Bafana record goalscorer, with 31 goals, has repeatedly said he would love to coach Bafana, more so to sort out their goalscoring woes.

During his short spell at City he has proven himself to be an astute tactician, winning the MTN8 in his first season in the top flight and his team is currently among the top four teams vying for league honous.

But in football circles many have dismissed McCarthy as the man who can rescue Bafana, suggesting Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane instead, because McCarthy lacks coaching experience at international level.

His success in two seasons with The Citizens also suggests club boss John Comitis would not let him go without a fight .

Mosimane, on the other hand, stepped down at the helm of Bafana acrimoniously, threatening to take the SA Football Association (Safa) to court for unfair dismissal. However, it seems both parties have since buried the hatchet by putting the national team first.

Mosimane has proven his mettle both in locally and in the CAF Champions League.

Sundowns have been crowned continental champions once and have won three PSL titles with Jingles.

Former Bafana mentor Mosimane, 54, also crowned the 2017 CAF Coach of the Year, was touted to take over before Baxter stepped in, after Shakes Mashaba was fired two years ago.

Mosimane has a long-term contract with Sundowns but club president Patrice Motsepe has admitted he was ready to release him any time, if Safa wants him.

In the interim, Mosimane has distanced himself from the Bafana job, instead recommending McCarthy because he wanted to turn the Brazilians into a dominant force in African football.

Baxter has been under mounting pressure after failing to qualify the side for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and a disastrous campaign in qualifying for this year's Afcon.

After taking over the job in May last year, he and his charges face a considerable amount of pressure as they have to either beat or draw with Libya on Saturday in their crucial final Afcon qualifier, if they are to secure a ticket to the continental showpiece in Egypt in June.

The last coach to take Bafana to the world football spectacle was Carlos Queiroz - at Japan and South Korea in 2002. In 2010, SA qualified as hosts.

Mark you, McCarthy played under the Frenchman and has mentioned that his dream was to take Bafana to the world stage.

So, who will win the toss between Pitso and Benni? The ball is in Safa's court.