World Cup hosts South Africa sack coach Santana

Santana pays the price for poor results in friendly internationals.
World Cup hosts South Africa have sacked coach Joel Santana after a miserable run of eight losses in nine friendly internationals.

The South African Football Association posted a statement on its Web site on Monday saying that Santana would step down his role with “immediate effect” and added it had been “unanimously agreed.” Jairo Leal and Pitso Mosimane will take temporary charge of the Bafana Bafana with the finals in South Africa now only eight months away. The 60-year-old Santana took the reins in April 2008, replacing fellow Brazilian Carlos Alberto Parreira, who stepped down for personal reasons. His first match saw a disappointing 2-0 away defeat to Nigeria before he steadied the ship with five straight wins against lowly African opposition.

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A fourth-place finish in the Confederations Cup on home soil, including a narrow defeat to winners Brazil in the semifinals, gave promise of improved performances. But results in friendlies remained poor and two defeats on a Scandinavian tour to Norway and Iceland earlier this month sealed Santana’s fate. Santana, who had no previous international experience, but built up his reputation in Brazilian club football, remained optimistic despite the results and was quoted on the official site claiming that the matches against Norway and Iceland were “good outings.” Parreira and Dutchman Leo Beenhakker are early favorites to replace him with local coach Gavin Hunt from Premiership champions SuperSport United also mentioned.