Searching for a Bafana Bafana boss
The African coaching circuit can sometimes seem like little more than a game of musical chairs. Recent vacancies, shortlists and appointments have been glossed over rather than analysed because it's inevitable the same faces will crop up again.
Algeria bucked the trend by handing Christian Gourcuff his first international job but his appointment is hardly a groundbreaking one. Gourcuff has two decades of experience managing teams mostly in France, which is where Algeria fish to fill their talent pool.
Former Zambia coach Herve Renard and Portugal's Manuel Jose are on the list as possible replacements for Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi. Renard is well-versed in the style of football played on the continent and has success at one African Nations Cup while Jose had a brief stint with Angola but is better known for his success in the club scene in which he won four African Champions League titles.
The Ivorian FA are also considering Luis Fernandez -- whose last international gig was with Israel three years ago -- and French Ligue 1 regulars Francis Gillot and Frederic Antonetti. Again, there's not much to be surprised by there.
South Africa's imminent unveiling of their new manager has captured a little more interest if only because they face some interesting choices. Once you sort through the wish list, which includes Marcel Desailly, Avram Grant, Ruud Gullit and Fabio Cannavaro, the possibilities are whittled down to three: the tried, the tested and the totally unexpected.
Carlos Queiroz is the man considered the favourite for the job. He has already had one period in charge of Bafana Bafana between 2000 and 2002 and although he oversaw their qualification to the World Cup in Japan and South Korea, he was sacked following their quarterfinal exit at the African Nations Cup earlier that year. These days, South Africa cannot even qualify for continental competitions, so the expectations on Queiroz may be a lot lower.
However, his demands are quite the opposite. Local media reported that Queiroz is expecting to be paid around $200,000 a month. That would amount to more than four times what former coach Gordon Igesund earned. When Igesund was appointed in 2012, his salary was revealed as $40,000 a month.
The South African Football Association may be able to afford Queiroz but he could find purse strings are looser in Iran, where he is reportedly negotiating an extension of his contract. Johannesburg may be an easier place to live in than Tehran but Queiroz may find the Iranians more open to his monetary demands than SAFA, who don't want to get into what president Danny Jordaan has called a "bidding war."
Should Queiroz price himself out, South Africa are likely to look local where Shakes Mashaba sits. Mashaba also has coached the team before, immediately after Queiroz for two years between 2002 and 2004. He led them into the 2004 ANC but was fired on the eve of the team's departure for that tournament for what was an alleged breach of contract. Mashaba was accused of not monitoring the foreign-based players.
He has since built bridges with SAFA and is currently in charge of both the U20 and U23 sides. He is on tour with the U20s in West Africa, where they are scheduled to play a series of friendlies. The team drew 1-1 with Burkina Faso on Thursday and also will face Mali, Senegal and Ivory Coast before heading home. Before Mashaba left, he knew he was in contention for the main job and said: "If the nation wants me to go there [to Bafana], I can't say no."
Opting for Mashaba would not only save SAFA money but it would give the national team the comfort of familiarity in a local coach. But there is a type of foreigner the South African administration have not explored: an African.
Stephen Keshi is also among the nominees and if chosen, he would provide a break from the rotation system. The Nigerian would not be a popular choice because of his no-nonsense reputation. Keshi would instil discipline -- maybe even fear -- and demand respect. He would come at less of a price than Queiroz and with more to his name than Mashaba.
Whether all that will be enough to shake South African players from their slumber is as questionable as whether South Africans would accept Keshi. Although Nigeria has overtaken South Africa in economic terms, South Africans still see themselves as the big bosses of the continent and Keshi's own big boss moniker may not sit well with them. It would, however, mean the addition of a new voice and this is needed.