Ntseki steps into Bafana 'forest'

Ntseki steps into Bafana 'forest'
Bafana Bafana’s interim coach Molefi Ntseki explained why he is raising his hand now for the vacant job of managing the senior men’s national team.

Ntseki raised his hand during the announcement of the Bafana squad that will take on Zambia next month in a friendly as part of preparations for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers later this year when Bafana will start with a trip to Ghana before hosting Sudan in November.

Ntseki would like to be in charge of Bafana in those qualifiers. He plans to use the friendly against Zambia and his time as interim coach as audition.

“(Raising my hand now) is part of the path that I started 21 years ago when I started coaching formally in 1998, in September. When I look back, I can see my footprints but when I look forward, I see a forest,” Ntseki said.

“I have to negotiate my way in this forest and get past it. That’s why it is happening now.

"Bafana Bafana to me is a forest, I don’t know what is inside the forest, but I know that I have the confidence and belief to negotiate my way past it.

“I don’t know what is there, if there are lions, I am a lion myself. I was born in August, I am a Leo, maybe I will negotiate better.”

The South African Football Association (Safa) is reportedly looking for a South African coach to replace Brit Stuart Baxter, who resigned after guiding Bafana to the quarter-finals of the Afcon in Egypt.

Ntseki was Baxter’s assistant during that tournament. He has also served as Shakes Mashaba’s assistant in the 10 years he has spent at Safa.

“It was very important for me to accept this responsibility because I have been with the national team for 10 years,” Ntseki said.

“I started in 2009 when I was assistant coach to Serame Letsoaka in the Under-20 World Cup in Egypt.

“Today, some of the players on the list of the squad that will take on Zambia were with me in 2009 and some of them were with me in Egypt at the Afcon. We know each other very well. I have seen them grow from boys to becoming men, which is something very good. They have grown tall in their responsibilities.

“It’s time for me to grow and become a responsible human being, a responsible South African who can take the national team to the next level.”

The next Bafana coach has to build on the team’s performance in Egypt and also take the team to the 2022 World Cup, having missed the last two editions in Brazil and Russia.

Ntseki explained what the next Bafana coach needs to succeed.

“A combination of all my predecessors. That would make us succeed as a country,” Ntseki said.

“We had Carlos Queiroz, who had a European background, Pitso Mosimane with a South African background, and Carlos Parreira, who had a Brazilian background. You had Shakes Mashaba, who had been involved with the national teams forever.

“The last coach was Stuart Baxter. When I look at coach Stuart and coach Shakes, and I bring myself into the picture, all that is important is professionalism from the players.

“If ever we are technically sound, disciplined, socially disciplined outside the pitch and we are mentally strong, those qualities will make us look better.”

Sunday Independent