Tuesday, October 20, 2009

South Africa Fires Coach

This pretty much had to be done. Since reaching the semifinals of the Confederations Cup back in June -- after coming out of a very weak group -- South Africa's national team has been struggling. Badly. When you lose to Iceland ...

So, the ouster of coach Joel Santana was a necessity. South Africa needs to get a fresh approach to things ... or the host country for the 2010 World Cup may be faced with the distinctly unpleasant experience of going out of the tournament with hardly a whimper.

The World Cup usually goes to countries that are serious soccer powers. Germany, France, England, Argentina, Spain, Italy, Mexico, even.

And even when it hasn't, the host nation(s) have risen to the occasion. The United States survived the first round, in 1994, when it was host -- but anything but a serious soccer country. South Korea got to the semifnals in 2002, when it co-hosted with Japan -- which also got to the knockout phase for the first (and only) time in its history.

South Africa may yet rise up and get out of the group phase, as well, but its play since June has not indicated that it is likely. Eight defeats in nine matches? That's why Santana is out and someone else -- maybe Sven Goran-Ericksson? -- will replace him.

South Africa has some competent players. It should be able to defeat the Icelands of the world. Perhaps a fresh approach will turn around the Bafana Bafana and enable them to be just good enough to ride the enthusiasm of a country to some modest measure of renown at South Africa 2010.

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