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Saturday, July 3, 2010
Coaches in the firing line

Andrew Warshaw, South Africa

They've been queuing up to take full responsibility and be shot down in flames. One by one, World Cup coaches are calling it a day, berated by the media and fans alike, buffeted by the pressure. Or in some cases, just having reached their sell-by date.

Only a handful of established teams can ever truly fulfil their expectations. Luck plays a key part in every major tournament yet the cull of coaches at this year's tournament has been brutal.

Of the 32 national coaches who started the tournament a quarter are now looking for fresh employment - and more are expected to follow. That's what the World Cup can do to you, fill you with hope and expectation, then knock you sideways.

No coach (perhaps with the exception of France's Raymond Domenech), has suffered more jibes than Carlos Alberto Parreira, who will always go down in history, whether he likes it or not, as being the only man to fail to take a host nation past the group stage.

Anyone who thought the World Cup would change the way South African football is governed should think again. Pitso Mosimane was expected to be named as the new Bafana Bafana coach on Friday, fulfilling the demands of a nation who insist on a South African being given the job.

Instead, the announcement descended into shambles as executives of the South African Football Association (SAFA) revealed the appointment had been delayed despite a resolution being passed giving Parreira's former assistant the job.

He will now be assessed by a technical committee with no firm decision for two weeks, a development that was met with derision by the national media who claimed it was another example of South African incompetence, on or off the field.

Domenech, meanwhile, was always going to hand in the towel and pass the mantle to Laurent Blanc after 2010, though not with the kind of mass hysteria that accompanied France's infamous capitulation highlighted by the Nicolas Anelka scandal.

Such are expectations in Brazil that just reaching the quarter-finals was never going to be enough for Dunga to survive, while Paul Le Guen was hindered by internal disputes in the Cameroon camp and left with no option but to quit once his side became the first to bow out.

Greece and South Korea have also parted company with their respective managers, Otto Rehhagel and Huh Jung-Moo, though the latter insists he simply did not seek a second term. Then there was Javier Aguirre, Mexico's fourth coach in as many years. He had to go after making a commitment to reach the last eight and seeing his country knocked out in the second round for the fifth straight time, albeit by Argentina.

Speaking of which, where does the future now lie for Diego Maradona? So confident for so long, memories of that nightmare qualifying competition, which almost cost Maradona the job on several occasions, must have come flooding back during his team's 4-0 quarter-final rout by Germany on Saturday. But one feels we have not seen the last of Diego.

Some coaches are staying to fight another day. Fabio Capello, despite a mountain of derision at his poor command of English and lack of motivational ability, has been given the green light to lead his adopted country into the 2012 European Championships, the feeling being that you don't simply become a bad coach overnight.

And Portugal's Carlos Queiroz - the focus of criticism along with Cristiano Ronaldo for the 1-0 defeat to Spain - says his resignation is "out of the question", taking the view that there was no shame in falling to their Iberian rivals.

Queiroz is credited for unearthing the golden generation of Portuguese players but hasn't even considered stepping down. "If the national coach must resign for having lost 1-0 against Spain then there is something wrong," he said. Perhaps that statement shows just how green a coach he really is.

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