Where did we go wrong and are we able to fix the weaknesses that we have as a country? asks Godfrey Malibe.
I believe that the Bafana Bafana debacle is an issue of national concern and it needs to be addressed at such a level. This has now become a fast death of our national team or let me say, teams. Not long ago we were almost certain that we’d be competing in the 33rd African Nations Cup edition in Cameroon, but all those aspirations have been shattered. That was just a dream. It is so sad, disappointing and shameful to say the least. A country with world-class facilities should do better, especially with the increased number of 24 countries from the usual 16.
Where did we go wrong and are we able to fix the weaknesses that we have as a country? First, the coach’s credibility is yet again in everybody’s lips. Did we expect anything extraordinary from him? It’s a given: if you can’t win us games, why must you be kept?
Molefi Ntseki failed us, just like those who came before him, and it was inevitable that he must be relieved of his duties as well. Well done, SAFA. But, do you think of firing yourselves? If the head is rotten, the whole body is likely to be deteriorating as well. Leadership counts for more in every organisation.
Ntseki had no senior national team experience where he’d just fit in smoothly. Yes. But remember that we have had the world’s good coaches in that deteriorating team. Brazil’s best in Carlos Pereira came and he failed. SAFA went on to appoint fellow Brazilian coach, Joel Santana. He was hand-picked by Pereira himself and SAFA gave him the nod. Did he succeed? Ask me. He too didn’t achieve anything. Phillipe Troussier failed in 1998, as did Carlos Queroiz.
The bench mark set by the 1996 team under the guidance of Clive ‘The Dog’ Barker is still unmatched. There was talent in those years. Jomo Sono tried in 1998. Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba also played his part, so did others like Trott Moloto.
Secondly, do we have the players to compete with the poor and rich African footballing countries, let alone in the world? Why don’t we have such players to wear the national jersey and guarantee at least qualifying for the African showpiece? Do we produce quality players on our shores? The answer is a big NO, but the follow-up question is a trap.
What do we do then to remedy the situation? Quick answer is: establish development and continuity programmes. Everything must start at the grassroots level. Have SAFA-endorsed development programmes that will also be adopted by professional bodies and sponsors. Ensure schools have serious soccer facilities and create schools soccer competitions like it used to be back then.
Soccer shouldn’t be seen as another recreational activity. Resuscitate the talent nurturing centres like The Esselen Park School of Excellence. Have youngsters’ competitions like we used to have The Chappies U-12 Little league and the Coca-Cola U17 league.
Thirdly, trim down on the number of foreign players that a PSL team can have in their books. We have helped polish foreign players that have grown to become our killers whilst we ignore our own. Foreign players enlighten our league but also kill our national teams. Let’s not take the bad with the good on this one. We got to be selfish at times. That would be for our benefit, right?