Coach - Clive Barker


We live together we die together, SA soccer for life.


The true story of newly appointed coach CLIVE BARKER after the recent fall of Apartheid and his culturally diverse, team of ‘no-hopers’, who became one of AFRICA’S greatest teams - winning AFCON 1996 at the first time of asking and qualifying for SOUTH AFRICA’S first WORLD CUP SOCCER tournament. It was during this period that the team was affectionately dubbed BAFANA BAFANA by the fans for their style of play and success as much as it was for their positive attitude towards each other both on and off the pitch.


As the country celebrated becoming World Cup Rugby Champions. Clive Barker, Lucas Radebe and Nelson Mandela all felt the pressure, realizing that anything short of winning AFCON 96 would be a disaster for local soccer, the fanatical soccer community and the country in general.

While Madiba was happy to use rugby to unify the nation, the majority of the new political elite wanted football to be the catalyst for the country’s social transformation and not rugby.

We begin our story as CLIVE BARKER is appointed as the new National Soccer coach in 94. Our film focuses on the most galvanizing sporting moment in our sporting history – AFCON 96 and subsequently the following year we qualified for our first World Cup Soccer appearance. During that tournament, the team became affectionately know as BAFANA BAFANA.
The SA press and most South Africans had very little faith in our team. None of the players was household names and the African continent thought we were a bit of a joke.

Two years prior we had failed to qualify and had picked up the unfortunate nickname the 4 x 4’s. after losing four internationals in a row.

How did Clive Barker take an ethnically diverse group of soccer players - from contrasting economic backgrounds and mould them into one of the most successful soccer teams the African continent has ever seen. How was this possible given our recent, divided and volatile political and social past?

In this biographical film about Clive Barker, we will focus on his greatest moment as the National soccer coach, through Bafana Bafana’s greatest achievement, winning AFCON in 1996 and qualifying for our first Soccer World Cup in 1998.

1996 African Cup of Nations is enshrined as one of the greatest sports events of South Africa’s sporting history and the team dubbed ‘Barker’s Babes’, is still our most successful team. What are some of the reasons for this?

Yes, in making this documentary we want to stir up poignant feelings; with a fair dose of nostalgia however, we want to answer the above questions and find solutions for the future.


In this film we will focus on recapturing the electricity generated by Clive Barker’s Bafana Bafana of 1996/97 will be our focus.

We will use extensive archive footage of Nelson Mandela, AFCON 96 and the international games leading up to AFCON and the magical and crucial game that saw us qualify for our first World Cup. We will intercut the archive footage of helicopter shots mixed with the soccer we will shoot.


Clive Barker had an incredible ability to turn average players into good players and good players into great players. His self-belief in the team and the country coupled with Madiba magic made for a winning formula.

Beginning in 1994 Barker made a decision to only play the best teams in the world as he believed that was the only way to become the best. Leading up to 96 Bafana took on Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Nigeria, Ghana, Australia and Cameroon. Along with winning our only AFCON trophy and qualifying SA for our first World cup.

Clive Barker resigned in 1997 under controversial circumstances. We will discuss this at length. Why did SAFA allow this to happen on the eve of our first World Cup? Did SAFA push Clive to resign? Did they fire Clive Barker?

No coach has replicated Barker's success or longevity in the South Africa job.

“Obviously what transpired in 1995 with the Rugby World Cup gave us incentive and motivation, besides Mandela’s presence, to go on and achieve great things.”
Clive Barker

Director – John Barker


About John Barker

Writer/Director/Producer, known for his directorial debut film Bunny Chow.

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