Matthew Booth has backed the appointment of Carlos Queiroz as Bafana Bafana head coach, adding that the experienced Portuguese manager should be put in charge of football development in South Africa from the grassroots all the way up to the senior team.
Queiroz has emerged as the favourite to get the job, with the South African Football Association set to announce a new head coach on Saturday.
“I would recommend that Safa do what the USA has done with Jurgen Klinsmann, that Queiroz is basically given the power to change football in South Africa, from grassroots up to Bafana. I believe he has the capability of changing an entire nation’s structure. The root issue with Bafana is creating a bigger pool of talent, and that starts at grassroots and with schools football,” said Booth.
Booth was a part of Queiroz’ Bafana squad that qualified for the 2002 Fifa World Cup and got to the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinals, before controversially being forced out of the job before he could take the team to the World Cup finals.
Since then, Queiroz’ career has seen him assist Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, and coach Real Madrid, as well as the national teams of Portugal, Iran and most recently Colombia, who sacked him in December.
“He knows the lie of the land, I was very impressed with him in his short stint here,” said Booth.
“The fact that he went on to assist Sir Alex Ferguson and Man United tells you everything you need to know.”
The former Bafana Bafana and Mamelodi Sundowns defender adds that he feels Queiroz was unfairly treated in not being able to take the team to Japan and South Korea.
“After the Nations Cup exit to Mali (in the quarterfinals), they used that as an excuse to get rid of him, along with rather weak and spurious racism allegations. There was quarters of the press on board and it was rather disappointing, because we have never had that issue in football.
“Whether it was intentional or not (that he was forced out), I know he was bitterly disappointed at the time.”
In describing Queiroz as a coach, Booth says the Portuguese coach can be unafraid of speaking his mind when necessary, and more measured and quietly spoken at other times.
“He can shout and scream, he is a passionate guy,” adds Booth.
“He is competitive and he is precise in his planning, you can see he knows what he is doing, his CV speaks for itself.”