HomeSportsFootballDoctor Khumalo: "Clive Barker Deserved Better"

Doctor Khumalo: “Clive Barker Deserved Better”

“And then you had Clive Barker saying, ‘Forget about your clubs, you’re now coming to camp to perform as one team'.”

Doctor Khumalo: "Clive Barker Deserved Better"-SurgeZirc SA
Doctor Khumalo: “Clive Barker Deserved Better”

Former Bafana Bafana captain Neil Tovey believes Clive Barker, the coach of the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) winning team, was the right fit for the demoralised team he took over in 1994.

Tovey described Barker as a master motivator who instilled “self-belief” and “pure joy and happiness” in the team.

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The provincial memorial for Barker, who died in a Durban hospital on Saturday at the age of 78, was held on Thursday at the Olive Convention Centre in the city.

Dignitaries and players from the teams Barker managed — Durban City, which he led to league titles in 1982 and 1983, Bush Bucks, who he won the league with in 1995, AmaZulu, and the Bafana Bafana team, which he won the Nations Cup and reached the World Cup — were there.

Tovey and midfielder Doctor Khumalo, one of Barker’s favourite players, spoke about how the coach transformed a squad that suffered devastating defeats on South Africa’s comeback to international football, earning the nickname 4x4s for games in which they lost four goals, into continental beaters.

“There’s loads of players who are here today who went through great times,” Tovey said.

“In all those clubs and teams there was one common denominator — Clive’s love for all those players.

“They were all great teams, great players, great combinations. They could not have been great teams without a mentor, a father figure who at any moment in time could not only solve your football problems, but also solve your domestic problems.

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“When Clive was asked to take on Bafana Bafana in 1994, we got together, just Clive and I — Clive asked me to meet him at Milpark Holiday Inn — and we had a discussion around, ‘Neil what can make this team tick?’ He said to me, ‘This team is loaded with talent’.

“And I said, ‘Clive, what you’re going to need to do is just be yourself’, because in my past experiences with him at Durban City and AmaZulu, and my experiences with Bafana who I’d been with since 1992, was ‘this team just needs love. And I know I don’t even have you ask you to do that because I know you will do it’.

“And you’ve got to understand the journey that was taken from 1992. From 1992 to 1994 Bafana was made up of club players who played against each other and [the squad] was fragmented.

“And then you had Clive Barker saying, ‘Forget about your clubs, you’re now coming to camp to perform as one team’.”

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Tovey said players in camps were allowed time off, “generally during the middle of the week”, to do as they pleased” by a coach known for his man-management skills.

Barker was well-known for enabling players to go out for a few drinks while cautioning them not to overdo it. And those who went out were the first to be trained.

Khumalo, who broke down and couldn’t continue speaking at one point, said Barker deserved more recognition for his contribution and legacy in South African football.

“I would like to say to Clive, ‘Thank you very much for putting smiles on South Africans’ faces. Thank you Clive for moulding ‘4x4s’ to become champions. Thank you Clive for believing in us.’ I think Clive deserves better.

“The reason I’m saying this is in 1994, and all the guys who were there will attest to this, he said to us he wanted to win the Africa Cup of Nations in 1996 and in 1998 we would qualify for [the World Cup] in France. And that’s exactly what happened.

“I just want to say to him, ‘You have made our roles in South Africa’, you gave the squad of 1996 the chance to play overseas.”

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Elize Coetzee for SurgeZirc SA
Elize Coetzee for SurgeZirc SA
Elize Coetzee, a seasoned journalist, is the driving force behind SurgeZirc SA’s world news and world politics coverage. With an unwavering commitment to truth, Elize delves into global affairs, providing live updates, in-depth investigations, and thought-provoking analysis. Whether it’s geopolitical tensions, international diplomacy, or breaking stories, Elize’s incisive reporting keeps readers informed and engaged.
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