Barker still hopeful of taking Bafana to Russia

Sep 15, 2017

Thandisizwe Mgudlwa

Cape Town – With two games to spare in qualification to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, South Africa’s Bafana Bafana sit at the bottom of Group D with four points.   

To be on the safe side, Bafana Bafana would need to secure all six points and pray that other teams in the group – Burkina Faso, Cape Verde and Senegal cancel each other out for the South Africans to ends the group with 10 points.

With news that the 2-1 win over Senegal last year would have to be replayed, after FIFA declared the game ‘null and void’ due to match fixing by the referee, things are looking bad for Bafana.

The South African Football Association naively rehired Stuart Baxter who failed to qualify Bafana Bafana to the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Since his reappointment a few months ago, Baxter failed to win the COSAFA Cup and qualify the team for next year’s CHAN tournament in Kenya.

Within a space of days he has lost to lowly ranked Cape Verde 2-1 away and at home.

Now it would make sense for SAFA, to reappoint the most successful coach to have mentored Bafana Bafana before. And that person is Clive Barker.

Clive Barker is one of South Africa’s most successful coaches, having won league and cup titles at club level and led South Africa to the African Cup of Nations glory in 1996.

He was the first South African coach in 1997 to qualify for the 1998 World Cup in France.

He is now well into his fourth decade in professional football with vast wealth of experience at both club and national team’s level.

As a player he had a distinguished career at Durban City and Durban United, making his professional debut at just 17 years of age. Barker was on the verge of signing for Leicester in England but a serious knee injury put an end to his playing career.

In 1973 he started his coaching career with amateur team Fynnlands, before joining the professional ranks with AmaZulu in 1974.

In 1976 he won his first title, as Pinetown Celtic won the NFL Second Division league championship and promotion to the top flight. He returned to the amateur ranks a year later with Juventus.

Between 1981 and 1983 he coached a highly successful Durban City side, which won the National Soccer League title in 1982 and successfully defended the title a year later.

The league titles elevated him into the national spotlight and he was enticed away from the club to join city rivals Durban Bush Bucks. And in 1984 he won his third league title in three years.

Over the next 10 seasons he would coach at AmaZulu elevating the side into a dominate league-contender. While the league title would elude him he won the Coca-Cola Cup in 1992.

In 1992, South Africa return to the international fold after years of isolation and received a rude awakening suffering crushing defeats to Nigeria and Zimbabwe in official World Cup and Nations Cup qualifiers.

In 1994 Clive was given the reigns and quickly turned their fortunes around, establishing the team as an African powerhouse, easily topping their 1996 Nations Cup qualifying group.

South Africa were awarded the rights to host the tournament after initial hosts Kenya withdrew and the team went on to win the tournament on home soil, beating Tunisia 2-0 in the final.

The team rose to the No. 1 ranked team in Africa and the top 16 in FIFA’s World Ranking system holding their own against the likes of Germany, Holland, Czech Republic, France and Argentina.

And in 1997, he famously led a star-studded Brazil 2-0 at half time, before succumbing 3-2 at the final whistle. They went on to qualify for the 1998 World Cup in France.

As African champions, South Africa took part in the Confederations Cup, but administrative bungling saw second-string team compete in the warm up matches and the tournament itself.

Defeats to UAE and Uruguay saw SAFA place pressure on Clive to resign, which he did.

It must also be remembered that in 1996 Bafana Bafana under Clive Barker were awarded by FIFA the ‘Best Mover of the Year Award, signalling they South Africa was the best team in the world in 1996.

The national team has since than been on a downward spiral, and unlikely to reach the same heights again.

After returning to AmaZulu in 1998, Clive joined Santos two years later and won the Bob Save SuperBowl with the Cape Town team in 2001, beating Sundowns in the final.

Stints with Zulu Royals, Manning Rangers, Santos and AmaZulu followed before he took a back seat from coaching in 2010 and acted in a technical director role at AmaZulu.

At the beginning of 2013 he was enticed out of semi-retirement to take charge at Bidvest Wits, helping them finished an impressive fourth on the Absa Premiership table.

At the beginning of the 2013/14 season he joined Black Aces, finishing the newly promoted team in seventh position, qualifying the team for the lucrative MTN Top8 competition.

The following season he took on a role as development coach for the club overseeing the junior structures

He is considered the father of coaching, with a recent Kick Off Magazine report highlighting the fact that more than 70 percent of the players that were capped at national level under him have remained in the football, as coaches and administrators.

Club coaches such as Clinton Larsen (Golden Arrows), Steve Komphela (Kaizer Chiefs), Gavin Hunt (Wits), Eric Tinkler (Supersport United) Shaun Bartlett (Tuks) and Andre Arendse (goalkeeper coach at Wits) all played under Clive at some stage and recognize Clive’s coaching style as an inspiration to their own coaching careers.

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