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Football | Absa Premiership

Barker appointed Black Aces coach

Black Aces announced on Thursday that 1996 Africa Cup of Nations winning coach Clive Barker had agreed a two-year deal to coach the Mpumalanga club.

The former Bidvest Wits coach signed the agreement on Thursday morning and will officially start work on 8 July. He replaces Jacob Sakala, who led the team back into Premiership football.

"We always wanted Clive who has shown to be an incredible motivator of players and we firmly believe to be the best coach in South Africa. We are delighted to welcome him to our club and have full confidence in his abilities and are convinced that Black Aces under his guidance, will become a force in the PSL,” said co-chairman Mario Morfou and George Morfou in a statement on the club’s official website.

Barker, who is one of South Africa’s most successful coaches, having won league and cup titles at club level and lead South Africa to African Cup of Nations glory in 1996, said he was delighted to be involved with the club who he has known for many years.

"I have fond memories of the old "Coal City Giants" especially the many football legends such as Cyprian Maimane, Steve "Disco" Makua and both Dumi and Juniour Ngobe," Barker said.

The main Aces squad returns from a short break on Tuesday 9 July and Barker said he intended having a hard look at all the players who successfully won Aces promotion back into the PSL before making any changes.

"I will be using the first week to assess the quality of players and I intend being transparent by giving them all an opportunity. The existing players are all in the starting line-up and will have to convince me that they are the right players to make Aces a competitive outfit in the PSL,” he said.

Barker is yet to decide on his technical team but indicated he intends working closely with Sakala, who has now assumed the role of technical advisor at Aces.

"I will rely largely on all the expertise gained from last season and will welcome the input from last year’s technical team," said Barker who is now well into his fourth decade as a professional coach and offers a wealth of experience at both club and national team level,” said Barker.

Barker started his coaching career in 1973 with amateur team Fynnlands, before joining the professional ranks with AmaZulu in 1974. In 1976 he won his first title, as Pinetown Celtic won the NFL Second Division league championship and promotion to the top flight. He returned to the amateur ranks a year later with Juventus.

Between 1981 and 1983 he coached a highly successful Durban City side, which won the National Soccer League title in 1982 and successfully defended the title a year later.

The league titles elevated him into the national spotlight and he was enticed away from the club to join city rivals Durban Bush Bucks and in 1984 won his third league title in three years.

Over the next 10 seasons he would coach at AmaZulu elevating the once sleeping giant into a dominate league-contender. While the league title would elude him he won the Coca-Cola Cup in 1992 beating Kaizer Chiefs in the final.

That year saw South Africa return to the international fold after years of isolation and received a rude awakening suffering crushing defeats to Nigeria and Zimbabwe in official World Cup and Nations Cup qualifiers.

In 1994 Clive was given the reigns and quickly turned their fortunes around, establishing the team as an African powerhouse, easily topping their 1996 Nations Cup qualifying group.

South Africa were awarded the rights to host the tournament after initial hosts Kenya withdraw and the team went on to win the tournament on home soil, beating Tunisia 2-0 in the final.

The team rose to the number one ranked team in Africa and the top 20 in Fifa’s World Ranking system holding their own against the likes of Germany, Holland, Czech Republic, France and Argentina and in 1997 famously led a star-studded Brazil 2-0 at half time, before succumbing 3-2 at the final whistle. They went on to qualify for the 1998 World Cup in France.

After returning to AmaZulu in 1998, Clive joined Santos two years later and won the Bob Save SuperBowl with the Cape Town team in 2001, beating Sundowns in the final.

Stints with Zulu Royals, Manning Rangers, Santos and AmaZulu followed before he took a back seat from coaching in 2010 and acted in a technical director role at AmaZulu.

At the beginning of 2013 he was enticed out of semi-retirement to take charge at Bidvest Wits, helping them finished an impressive fourth on the Absa Premiership table.

He is considered the father of coaching, with a recent Kick Off Magazine report highlighting the fact that more than 70 percent of the players that were capped at national level under him have remained in the football, as coaches and administrators.

Club coaches such as Clinton Larsen (Celtic), Steve Komphela (FS Stars), Roger De Sa, Eric Tinkler (both Pirates) Shaun Bartlett (Arrows) and Andre Arendse (Bidvest Wits) all played under Clive at some stage and recognize Clive’s coaching style as an inspiration to their own coaching careers.


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