OPINION: Why Baxter's plan to offer Fortune a seat at the Bafana head table is a massive gamble

17 August 2017 - 16:29 By Mninawa Ntloko
Newly appointed assistant coach Quinton Fortune of Bafana Bafana during the South African national soccer team training session at FNB Stadium on August 16, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Newly appointed assistant coach Quinton Fortune of Bafana Bafana during the South African national soccer team training session at FNB Stadium on August 16, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

Stuart Baxter may be regarded as a highly skilled tactician but his plan to offer Quinton Fortune a seat at the Bafana Bafana head table is a massive gamble.

The Bafana coach views the former Manchester United player as a potential assistant and the relationship is still being assessed before any full-time appointment is made.

The problem is the nation’s soccer lovers have not forgotten that this is the same Fortune who regularly pulled down his pants and let one rip in the direction of a succession of Bafana coaches during his playing days.

Baxter only has to take a squint at that 140-character weapon of mass destruction‚ Twitter‚ to get a sense of how the public feels about his plan to hire the polarising figure.

Fortune thumbed his nose at numerous Bafana call-up letters at a time when his country needed him the most and he eventually succeeded in turning public opinion against him.

It also doesn’t help that he was always eager to offer a poor assessment of the domestic game whenever he got the chance and even his prospective employers‚ the South African Football Association (Safa)‚ were regular recipients of his acerbic tongue.

While the folks at Safa House now appear to be falling over themselves to accommodate the man‚ South Africans are not so forgiving.

They’ve jammed radio shows‚ social media‚ e-mails and numerous other media as they make it their mission to communicate their unhappiness.

They haven’t forgotten that there was a time when Safa could not speak to Fortune directly and officials had to use go-betweens‚ who would then be the ones to relay messages to him.

Fortune apparently preferred that all communication be conducted through a third party and this person would then be the one to tell Safa to go jump in the nearest lake.

While other overseas-based players took the trouble to call then Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane after they received their call-up letters‚ our man never bothered himself with such a trivial courtesy.

A glutton for punishment‚ Mosimane persistently sent call-up letters to Fortune’s club but‚ like clockwork‚ they were all rejected with contempt.

“We have tried everything but nobody has been able to talk to him. Faxes‚ messages‚ telephone calls … you name it‚ we have tried it all‚” I remember a pained Mosimane saying at the time.

Granted‚ there are some fellow holders of green ID books who believe that offering this gig to Fortune is a swell idea and he could serve as Baxter’s eyes and ears in Europe.

But there are many former Bafana players who have been patiently waiting for an opportunity to serve their country and they have the required qualifications and more pertinently‚ they’ve followed Safa’s own programmes.

These folks will be watching these developments with keen interest and they'll be asking themselves just how in the blazes did Fortune jump the queue if he does indeed get the job.

Baxter and his employers have been at pains to explain that nothing has been finalised yet but if they want to assess public sentiment‚ Twitter would be a good place to start.

 - TimesLIVE 

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