30 August 2019 – Bafana Bafana interim coach Molefi Ntseki will have the first feel of being in charge of the Senior Men’s National team when he takes his side to Zambia for the international friendly match against Chipolopolo at Lusaka’s Heroes Stadium on 7 September 2019.
Here he talks to SAFA.net on his journey so far and the way forward.
SAFA.net: Coach take us through your coaching journey until today
Molefi Ntseki: My journey as a coach started in 1998 as Vodacom League Head Coach of Welkom Stars and I led them into promotion to the National First Division in 2000. I then went to Harmony Sports Academy from 2003-2007, before joining African Warriors FC as head coach in the First Division from 2007-2009. I then joined Bloemfontein Celtics as Assistant Coach in 2010-2012. Here (Bloemfontein Celtics) I was also head of Youth Structures from 2012-2014 before I joined SAFA as U/17 Head Coach. The coaching bug hit me when I was teaching in the Free State and from mid-2000, the career just took off in dramatic fashion; from Harmony Academy, to Bloemfontein Celtic to being assistant to Serame Letsoaka of the u20 men’s national team, to being u17 coach, assistant coach of Bafana Bafana and now interim coach. Looking back, it has been an exciting journey with its highs and lows of course.
SAFA.net: This is your first senior assignment and must come with lots of pressure
Molefi Ntseki: Pressure is a relative term and don’t forget before becoming an interim Bafana Bafana coach, I have been with the Senior Men’s National team for a long time now. I was assistant to Shakes Mashaba, to Owen da Gama during the two games he was in charge and recently I was assistant to coach Stuart Baxter. All these tenures have prepared me enough to stand on my own. We went as far as the quarter-finals in Egypt and I was very much part of the decision making processes and with any coach I have worked with.
SAFA.net: Can you say you are ready to assume the Senior National team duties having worked with all these coaches before as an assistant?
Molefi Ntseki: If you are at school, you graduate from a lower level to the next and I think I have sufficiently served my apprenticeship for this demanding job and it is about time I graduate to the next level. I qualified for the FIFA World Cup with the u17 in Chile and several other achievements and I don’t believe taking this job would be tantamount to being thrown into the deep end. Without sounding arrogant, I think I am ready for this.
SAFA.net: What can you say are your biggest attributes?
Molefi Ntseki: I think that is for fans to say. They have the best outlook of an individual and I will pay attention to whatever people say about me and learn from there. One thing though, with my teaching background is I have studied and know the social aspect of individuals and this helps in analysing players from different backgrounds. I listen a lot, likes to engage players to find out their strengths and weaknesses and I think this is important in this particular job where you work with different individuals from different backgrounds.
SAFA.net: Playing philosophy – is there anything called South African philosophy or it’s a global game
Molefi Ntseki: I suppose when a Brazilian takes to the field, you can easily identify him, so is say English player, Germany or Argentine player etc. South Africans are passionate people who are proud of their heritage and culture and one thing they are proud of is their different approach to things especially sport and football is one such thing. But is showboating or standing on top of the soccer ball part of that identity? If it is, that one we need to discard it because apart from showing disrespect for opponents, it does not develop the game or win you games. But if you talk of tactical astuteness derived from our physical build up, then I will yes definitely we need to have our own identity which will separate us from the rest.
SAFA.net: Is the Zambia game a must-win or a make or break for you?
Molefi Ntseki: South African fans love success hence their love, hate relationship with coaches. You win today, you are their number one fan, you lose the following day, they call for your head. This I think is derived from their passion for the sport, their teams and Bafana Bafana in particular. They want success at all costs especially in this day and age where good news is rare with high unemployment and other social ills afflicting the country. However, it is my take that fans must learn to take the good and the bad in the same breath. I was impressed by the Egyptian fans. Before we played them, they were all over us but once we beat them, they still applauded their players knowing in a game of football, its either you win, lose or draw.
SAFA.net: What is your take on South African football
Molefi Ntseki: With regards to national teams I think the public needs to give SAFA a big thumps ups for the recent success they have achieved with the national teams. The main focus of Vision 2022’s first phase was for our national teams to constantly qualify for major tournaments, something all national teams have really achieved. Both the u17 men and girls’ national teams qualified for the FIFA World Cup, so was the u20 men’s national team, Banyana Banyana finished runners up at last year’s AWCON, qualified for the FIFA World Cup and have won three COSAFA titles on the bounds. Bafana Bafana qualified for the AFCON and reached the last 8. If you don’t call that success, then I don’t know. The second phase of Vision 2022 of course is now to make an impact once the respective national teams qualify for those tournaments. It is a gradual process and I know our fans are not that patient but all teams in the world are thriving to reach the top.