Safa TD Steenbok explains Bafana assistant Mkhalele’s absence at Caf A course

16 November 2023 - 12:17
By Mahlatse Mphahlele
Bafana Bafana assistant coach Helman Mkhalele.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix Bafana Bafana assistant coach Helman Mkhalele.

Bafana Bafana assistant coach Helman Mkhalele has been conspicuous by his absence at the Confederation of African Football (Caf) A license course in Johannesburg this week.

Senior Premier Soccer League coaches Gavin Hunt, Steve Barker and Eric Tinkler are in attendance at the course at the South African Football Association (Safa) Technical Centre and Safa House.

Safa technical director Walter Steenbok said Mkhalele is missing the course because of his tight schedule with the senior national team who are in camp for 2026 World Cup qualifiers against Benin and Rwanda. 

Bafana take on Benin at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday and then travel to East-Central Africa to face unpredictable Rwanda on Tuesday. 

Mkhalele made headlines in June when he could not sit on the bench during the Cosafa Cup as he did not have the required coaching badges and Safa were forced to rope in Morena Ramoreboli and Raymond Mdaka to lead the team. 

Caf's 2023 regulations require all “head coaches to have a Caf Pro, A or B coaching licence and assistants coaches to have a Pro, A, B or C licence”, but Mkhalele has a Safa Level 1 badge. 

Steenbok said Mkhalele would battle to partake in the course while in camp with Bafana. 

“If you check how we structured this course, he was going to find it difficult because Bafana have a World Cup qualifier against Benin at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday. 

“After that game they charter to Rwanda and he was going to miss a few days for this course.

“We have pencilled the second phase [of the course] in January during Afcon [the Africa Cup of Nations finals in Ivory Coast in January and February]. 

“He was never going to be able to make it, but he was supposed to be part of this course because he was cleared by Caf.

“It is not only him. [With] many guys who have the old certificate, like Godfrey Sapula and Michael Manzini, we had to ask Caf if they recognise that certificate and they were cleared. It was possible for [Mkhalele] to be here but his schedule has been a bit tough.” 

Steenbok said it was the decision of Bafana coach Hugo Broos that Mkhalele should stay in the Bafana camp and miss the Caf A course. 

“It is not my call but that of the coach. We had put to him [Mkhalele] in the course and it was for him [Broos] to make a decision. I have a responsibility to ex-professional players, PSL coaches and national team coaches. 

“If you take somebody like Monde Hlatshwayo, who has been with Basetsana [the South Africa under-17 women’s team] and also Bantwana [the U-17 men’s team], I have a responsibility to all these guys. My target was to say PSL, NFD [first division] and then I look at the national teams and HollywoodBets Super League [Safa women's league]. 

“If I didn’t get anything there, we would go down a little bit. We had made a reservation for [Mkhalele] but they made a call with coach Broos that he will stay with the national team.”