Santana’s stuttering English is a good sign for South Africa
South Africa’s Brazilian coach Joel Santana has broken into English at news conferences on just a handful of occasions.
It’s mostly after rare wins for the national side when the local media are in good humour and Santana seeks to charm them with his piecemeal vocabulary. Few notes are taken amid the mirth.
So it was after Saturday’s win over Poland in Soweto – a rare triumph for Bafana Bafana against European opposition which is a confidence booster for a side in desperate need of a lift.
As upcoming World Cup hosts, much is being made of the need for the home country to field a competent and competitive side at the 2010 tournament.
Santana has been tasked with achieving that goal but his first 12 months in charge has been mired in mediocrity.
A triumph over a holidaying Polish team, shorn of many of their first choice players, is in reality no indictor of whether Santana’s work will take the team to a better level.
South Africa now face the Confederations Cup, where Iraq and New Zealand are their first two opponents.
But success against this pair will also make us no wiser as to their true potential. But it may mean being subjected to a few more news conferences in English from Santana.
He has taken to heart recent critical comparisons with the way Fabio Capello has made an obvious effort at improving his English fluency since starting his tenure with England.
Capello is a veritable Stephen Fry in comparison with Santana, but the hacks will be happy if Santana keep trying because it means the team is winning.
PHOTO: South Africa soccer coach Joel Santana looks on during a news conference in Johannesburg June 4, 2009. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko