Sorry South Africa lose again

South Africa coach Joel Santana
Joel Santana has welcomed the appointment of assessors

Joel Santana’s future as South Africa coach dimmed again after his side lost to Iceland 1-0 in a friendly at Reykjavik on Tuesday.

Viegar Pall Gunnarsson scored the only goal of the game in the 51st minute, to condemn Bafana Bafana to their eighth loss in nine matches.

South Africa also lost 1-0 to Norway in Oslo on Saturday but despite the two defeats Santana remained optimistic.

“Obviously I am not happy with the losses, but it was a good outing for the side,” he said.

“It was important for my players to experience the rigours of international football as it will build their character.

“I am happy that I gave some players a chance away from home, and they did not disappoint.”

The Brazilian says that he has learnt some lessons from the tour.

“The last match was better than the first, the marking and shooting was better, but sometimes we need to use our pace more when attacking, and also we should not give our opponents space,” he said.

Any decision on Santana’s future will not be taken until November according to the South Africa Football Association (Safa).

This follows the failure of a three-man panel, set up by Safa last week to assess Santana’s performance on a ‘win-or-else’ tour, to secure travel visas for Europe.

The trio of Gavin Hunt, Jomo Sono and Clive Barker must wait for mid-November’s friendlies at home to Japan and Jamaica before compiling their report.

“We have asked the three coaches to provide us with an assessment in the context of a broader report that we plan to present to our National Executive Committee (NEC),” the statement read.

“It would be irresponsible not to place a matter of such great importance before our NEC.”

The newly-installed Safa President, Kirsten Nematandani, partly campaigned on a platform to dismiss Santana yet he has been more circumspect since taking charge in last September.

The Brazilian is under fire after losing eight of his last nine matches, even if some of these came against Spain (twice), Brazil and Germany in Berlin.

In Oslo on Saturday, during a game where Santana was supposedly chasing victory to ward off the hunt dogs, his side’s only chance of note did not arrive until the 81st minute.

Unsurprisingly, it came from Katlego Mphela who is the only man to have scored for Bafana Bafana in their last nine matches (on four occasions).

Critics have also questioned Santana’s tactical inflexibility, late substitutions and inability to get the best out of Orlando Pirates’ Teko Modise, the local league’s star player.

In the coach’s favour, South Africa performed creditably during June’s Confederations Cup, most notably when matching Brazil until the dying minutes of their semi-final.

Several players from that Fifa tournament hope he will continue, with defender Matthew Booth telling BBC Sport it would be “suicidal” to dismiss Santana with just eight months to go until the World Cup.

Nonetheless, the coach needs his tournament form against Japan in Johannesburg on 14 November, as well as the Jamaica clash in Bloemfoentein three days later, to ensure he leads out the World Cup hosts in 2010.

The game against Japan has been moved to Johannesburg from Durban due to stadium construction delays.

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