Bafana’s French reconnection

The appointment of flamboyant Frenchman Hervé Renard as manager could be just what Bafana need to rejoin the group of African heavyweights, writes Ebrahim Moolla

If the rumours are to be believed, Morocco coach Renard is set to be given the Bafana reins, some 19 years after his compatriot Philippe Troussier famously led the national team to the 1998 World Cup.

It would be a shrewd decision. Like his compatriot, the 48-year-old Renard had an undistinguished playing career, before he began a much more accomplished career in management. A protégé of the veteran mastermind Claude le Roy, Renard has spent most of his managerial life outside France in eight other countries in two continents. He has earned the moniker, the Prince of Africa, as one of the curious breed of European footballing minds who bring their talents to bear on the African game.

An animated figure on the touchline in his trademark white shirt, the charismatic Renard is at ease when interacting with all stakeholders – in stark contrast with Shakes Mashaba – and while not a purveyor of attacking football, he is a pragmatist who is able to adapt his tactics to get results. Perhaps his greatest asset is his ability to motivate and forge bonds with his team, turning the average player into one capable of match-winning genius.

Having guided Zambia and Ivory Coast to the 2012 and 2015 editions of the African Nations Cup respectively, the former CAF Coach of the Year would seem a shoo-in for the Bafana job if SAFA deems emulating the class of ‘96 in achieving continental glory its primary objective.

Assuming he does land the position, it will be fascinating to see how he bloods the enterprising footballers coming through at U20 level, manages the demands of fans and administrators and if he is granted enough time to bed in and make a lasting difference to South African football.