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Bafana might not be at the World Cup, but South Africa’s Roger De Sá will be there to coach Iran

Bafana might not be at the World Cup, but South Africa’s Roger De Sá will be there to coach Iran
Roger de Sá fancies Iran's chances at the global spectacle in Qatar. (Photo: Ashley Vlotman / Gallo Images)

South African football coach Roger de Sá is looking forward to a memorable Fifa World Cup experience with Iran, where he was recently appointed as assistant coach.

There may be no Bafana Bafana at the fast-approaching Fifa football World Cup, which is set to take place in Qatar on 2o November. Nevertheless, South Africa will be represented, with former Orlando Pirates coach Roger De Sá present.

De Sá has joined forces with Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz as his assistant once more. The pair are fresh from a coaching stint with the Egyptian national side, where they lost to Senegal on penalties during the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) final earlier this year.

As they head to the World Cup, the set-up will be the same as the pair take charge of Iran during one of most popular sporting events in the world, with Queiroz recently appointed as Iran’s coach for the second time.

He previously served in the seat from 2011 until 2019. For his second coming the experienced Portuguese coach has recruited De Sá as his lieutenant.

The pair also worked together when he was coach of Bafana Bafana between 2000 and 2002, with Queiroz employing the former Ajax Cape Town mentor as a goalkeeper coach in the senior national side.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Qatar will host a global tournament with a difference”

With mere weeks until kick-off in Qatar, the coaches have jetted off to Iran and will spend a few days in the country’s capital, Tehran, as they fine-tune the squad before friendlies in Austria.

Roger De Sá says the ‘heat and humidity will be a challenge for many of the players’ at the World Cup. (Photo: Carl Fourie / Gallo Images)

There they will begin the selection process for the final World Cup squad in Group B, alongside England, USA and Wales. 

Heat is on 

De Sá is pleased to be heading to the global spectacle, and said of Iran’s prospects: “Once you qualify for the World Cup you give yourself a realistic chance, and with the tournament being held in Qatar, it evens it out a bit more because you are not playing in Europe, you are not playing in South America. So, it’s almost a neutral venue.”

“The heat and humidity will be a challenge for many of the players in the tournament. We have a short time to prepare, not ideal. Ideally, we would have been there for a year. But Carlos knows the team and the players know him, as he coached them in the last two World Cups.”  

Roger De Sá coached Bafana Bafana between 2000 and 2002. (Photo: Philip Maeta / Gallo Images)

Reflecting on their time in Egypt, De Sá added: “We had a nine-month gig there. When we were called in to work with Egypt they were out of the top 20 in Africa, which is unusual for a country like Egypt.

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“So, they were struggling and we managed to get some good results early on. We made it to the final of the Afcon, beating a lot of top teams to reach the final, which we lost to Senegal on a penalty shootout. We over-achieved in the Cup of Nations; by the time we finished we were fourth or fifth in Africa. We beat Morocco, Ivory Coast and Cameroon (the host nation).”

With that in mind, though, they will be the underdogs in their group. De Sá, Queiroz and the rest of the Iranian technical team will be eyeing an upset or two in order to move on to the knockout phase. DM

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