South African football had it’s ups and downs in 2016 and while Bafana Bafana’s failure to qualify for next month’s African Nations Cup in Gabon left a sour taste in the mouth‚ there was plenty to celebrate and some of the credit should go to the men who sit on the bench.
These are our Top Five coaches of 2016:
1. Pitso Mosimane (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Mosimane completed a fairytale year when he was placed 10th on the International Federation of Football History and Statistics’ (IFFHS) prestigious list of club coaches a few days ago.
Mosimane is in esteemed company as the list is headed by Diego Simeone of Atletico de Madrid (113 points)‚ Zinedine Zidane of Real Madrid (108) and Claudio Ranieri of Leicester City (86).
The Sundowns coach scored five points in the list voted for by experts from 50 countries‚ placing him above Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger (four)‚ Leonardo Jardim of AS Monaco (three) and Olivier Blanc of Paris Saint-Germain (three).
Mosimane was also nominated for Caf’s coach of the year.
Sundowns became the African champions – the first from South Africa since Orlando Pirates in 1995‚ despite the distraction of domestic semifinals‚ and PSL champions‚ smashing their way to a new 71-point record despite the distraction of continental football.
The Pretoria club are also the first southern African team to compete at the Club World Cup (CWC).
Sundowns’ success this year was the culmination of three years of building a team by Mosimane capable of conquering Africa.
2. Ephraim "Shakes" Mashaba (Former Bafana Bafana coach)
Mashaba’s presence in this list will raise a few eyebrows‚ given that Bafana failed to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon.
But we shouldn’t forget that Mashaba beat Botswana 3-2 to clinch the 2016 COSAFA Cup at the Sam Nujoma Stadium‚ in Windhoek‚ Namibia in June.
The 66 year-old coach‚ who was fired by his South African Football Association employers this month after he was found guilty of insubordination‚ also managed to keep Bafana in the running for a place in the 2018 World Cup.
3. Gavin Hunt (Bidvest Wits)
Hunt sent out a strong message to his rivals early in the season and signalled his intent when Wits handed Sundowns a 3-0 thumping in the MTN8 final at Mbombela Stadium in October.
Wits are also strong contenders to win the league title this season and trail leaders Supersport United on goal difference.
Hunt means business.
4. Eric Tinkler (Cape Town City)
Cape Town City are the surprise package of 2016‚ given that they did not even exist six months ago.
The club rose out of the ashes of Mpumalanga Black Aces and was only launched on June 29.
The club‚ owned by John Comitis‚ made their professional debut in an MTN8 quartefinal match against Kaizer Chiefs and aced that first assignment‚ beating the ailing AmaKhosi 1-0 in August.
Eric Tinkler’s charges have never looked back and a coach many said failed at Orlando Pirates has managed to keep the newcomers in the title race.
The victory in the Telkom Knockout final over SuperSport United on December 10 gave Tinkler his first trophy as a head coach.
Watch this space‚ Tinkler is just getting started.
5. Vera Pauw (Former Banyana Banyana coach)
Vera Pauw was at the helm of Banyana Banyana coaching hot seat for two years and qualified the team for the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil.
While the former senior women’s national team mentor failed to win a single game or even score a goal at the Olympics this year‚ she deserves special mention.