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Page last updated at 14:55 GMT, Thursday, 1 October 2009 15:55 UK

South Africa coach under fire

Piers Edwards
BBC Sport, Johannesburg

Joel Santana
South Africa's coach Joel Santana names his squad

South Africa coach Joel Santana suffered a media grilling on Thursday as he named his 23-man squad for forthcoming friendlies in both Norway and Iceland.

Santana, 60, has lost much of the respect gained during Bafana Bafana's encouraging Confederations Cup with a succession of disappointing results.

Many South Africans, whether fans or media, believe Santana's job will be on the line if his side underperforms in Oslo on 10 October and in Reykjavik three days later.

Indeed, the first question of the news conference was whether the South African FA (Safa) would fire Santana should the 2010 World Cup hosts lose both matches.

"We met with the coach on Wednesday and were very clear, telling the technical team that there is an outcry from the nation and that people expect results," said Safa president Kirsten Nematandani.

"[But] we never gave any ultimatum."

The newly-installed Safa chief was seated next to the Bafana Bafana coach, who brushed off questions about his potential resignation should his side fail later this month.

After beating New Zealand at June's Confederations Cup, South Africa lost their following six matches - although these did include clashes with Spain (twice), Brazil and Germany.

"We've recently played matches against teams ranked number one, two and four by Fifa," the Brazilian explained.

"Bafana Bafana don't play any national team who don't have a good Fifa ranking," added the coach of a team ranked 73rd by Fifa (below the likes of Bahrain, Canada and Uganda).

Santana has been keen to test his players against the world's best, believing it will provide a steep learning curve yet the local media is losing patience with his approach.

His cause was not helped when the six-match run ended with a narrow 1-0 win over Madagascar, with the unconvincing manner of victory alarming many fans.

Such performances had led to intense speculation that South Africa's record goalscorer Benni McCarthy would be recalled to the squad.

Yet there was no place for the Blackburn Rovers striker nor Spain-based defender Nasief Morris - both of whom missed June's Confederations Cup for disciplinary reasons.

This meant the squad was largely similar to the one that lost last month's friendlies in Germany (0-2) and the Republic of Ireland (0-1).

The biggest surprises were the decisions to retain South Africa-based duo Sthembiso Ngcobo, a striker, and midfielder Siyabonga Sangweni.


GOALKEEPERS: Emille Baron (SuperSport United), Rowen Fernandez (Arminia Bielefeld, Germany), Moeneeb Josephs (Orlando Pirates)

DEFENDERS: Bevan Fransman (Maccabi Netanya, Israel), Siboniso Gaxa (Mamelodi Sundowns), Morgan Gould (SuperSport United), Tsepo Masilela (Maccabi Haifa, Israel), Aaron Mokoena (Portsmouth, England), Anele Ngongca (Genk, Belgium), Siyabonga Sangweni (Golden Arrows), Lucas Thwala (Orlando Pirates)

MIDFIELDERS: Kagisho Dikgacoi (Fulham, England), Benson Mhlongo, Teko Modise (both Orlando Pirates), Steven Pienaar (Everton, England), Macbeth Sibaya (Rubin Kazan, Russia), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs), Elrio van Heerden (Blackburn Rovers, England)

STRIKERS: Richard Henyekane (Golden Arrows), Mabhuti Khenyeza, Katlego Mphela (both Mamelodi Sundowns), Sthembiso Ngcobo (Free State Stars), Bernard Parker (FC Twente, Netherlands).

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see also
Dikgacoi: "Bring back Benni"
11 Sep 09 |  African
Fish says SA are playing catch-up
23 Sep 09 |  African
Nottm Forest 0-1 Blackburn
22 Sep 09 |  League Cup

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