Tovey’s debut against Cameroon was special
17 August 2012 | GRAEME JOFFE and NEIL TOVEY
GRAEME JOFFE: Born April 2, 1962 in Pretoria, former Bafana Bafana captain Neil Tovey. Was an eventful July for you. Shortlisted for the Bafana Bafana coaching job and almost leading Thanda Royal back into the PSL.
NEIL TOVEY: Yes, with regards to Bafana Bafana, I didn’t really expect much because I anticipated Gordon Igesund, Steve Khompela and Gavin Hunt had the better shot at it. But just to be included in the panel, as I never applied for it, was very good for me. So, looking forward, maybe in the near future, maybe something can happen.
GJ: You are highly regarded in coaching circles in South Africa but were you not worried if you got the Bafana job, it almost seems like a poisoned chalice?
NT: I made up my mind that hopefully that one day I will get the opportunity and like I have mentioned all the time, I believe 50-million people will pick a different team every week. You have to just believe what you are about and do the best that you can and do it your way because if you are going to listen to every comment and everybody’s ideas, you can get yourself very disjointed. So, I believe just do it the way you want to do it and hopefully it is the best at that time.
GJ: And Thanda Royal, you guys came so close to gaining promotion back to the PSL.
NT: Ja, we are own worst enemies. We got all our points away from home and we didn’t do the job at home. Everybody knows that to win or to get any promotion, you have to do the home journey and we never really reserved our best form for the home matches.
GJ: And I see you’ve now left Thanda Royal?
NT: Yes, unfortunately just towards the end of last season, one of the club’s co-owners passed away and it has left a lot of money constraints for the team and they said they couldn’t continue. I sort of anticipated it a little bit, as we have to go forward. So, it is not a big train smash. They would have liked to have kept me but said sorry Neil, we just can’t go that route.
GJ: So, at this stage, you are pretty much in limbo?
NT: Ja, limbo coaching wise but not job wise. I’ll be doing some ambassadorial work for SAB. We have the Africa Cup of Nations on home soil come January and February next year, so there is quite a nice project ahead. One of those projects is also to look for young and vibrant talent for them. SAB have a regional Castle league with Safa and I’m going to source and identify talent and coach them up. Hopefully, they can play against one of the national teams to give the opportunity to some young blood, a dream that they might never have had. At that level some of them go past and don’t get identified.
GJ: That is fantastic because I know you have always been a strong advocate of grass roots development and we moan about it so much in this country. We don’t see enough of it happening.
NT: Ja, it hasn’t and we need it for our game to grow. It is a very big challenge, not that anybody doesn’t know how to do it, it is just a case of getting the financial backing. We are a very big country to be able to get to all the corners of South Africa and put projects in place but I don’t think it is rocket science. Each province has to get its structures in place, where we get the coaches at a junior level and that is where, if I can say anything, we are lacking in a lot of the areas. We have all the natural talent coming through but to put them into the basics of control and movement and passing, in the game of football, if we can improve that, we can get back to No 1 in Africa, where we want to be.
GJ: 52 caps for Bafana Bafana and I don’t think anyone will forget the sight of you lifting the Africa Cup of Nations trophy in 1996.
NT: Ja, that was very special and obviously 1992 when we were re-admitted into international football. I captained the team into re-admittance and no-one knew what to expect. We played against Cameroon and everybody knows how well they did in the 1990 World Cup. They were a formidable team and we didn’t know what to expect but certainly that day in 1996, I mean it hasn’t been eclipsed and I don’t know when it will be. At that moment, you don’t realise what has gone on or how important it would be for the country.
GJ: Lowlight, never scoring a goal for Bafana in 52 games. Stage fright?
NT: Not my job, my job was to stop the goals.
GJ: Those local club days, when you think about Durban City, AmaZulu, you played for Chiefs as well. Durban City days, it was a glamour club then.
NT: Ja and not many people realise that it was in the apartheid era. I mean our first game was in 1981 and I was going into townships playing from a very young age and I suppose that helped me grow as a footballer in this country. We were playing in a multi-racial league, which was formed in 1979, so everybody relates to when we became a democratic country.
It started way before then, so playing when it was turmoil in this country with regards to politics.
Playing in townships was a very good grounding for me, because I also learnt in the old fashioned way. Those teams had good basic principles of football and I was very lucky to grow up as a youngster in a professional set-up that helped me in my future.
GJ: Lastly, your daughter Jessica, Miss Teen South Africa finalist 2011, obviously got her looks from her mom.
NT: Come on Joffers but yes, very proud of her and she’s now following a career in speech therapy.
- Catch Sportsfire with Graeme Joffe on Radio Today on Monday and Thursday from 5.30pm to 6.30pm on 1485AM and DSTV audio channel 169.
Also streaming worldwide on www.1485.org.za. Follow Joffe on Twitter @joffersmyboy.
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