Give Teko a break
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
Teko Modise’s inclusion in the national squad for Wednesday’s game against the Americans has set off a predictable cacophony of empty chatter.
Just two years ago he was the glittering star of South African football and the talismanic presence in the Bafana Bafana team.
Now he cannot even crack a place in the Orlando Pirates squad.
Why therefore, many pundits have asked since last week’s squad announcement, is there still a place for him in the national team squad?
It is a sudden storm that overshadows the preparations for the last international of what has been a momentous year for the national team.
It is also very hypocritical, because for the almost two decades since Bafana Bafana stride onto the international stage, the South African squad has been full of players unable to command regular first team places at their clubs.
These pundits have very short memories and indeed are espousing a double standard as regards this latest squad.
There has not been a peep about Kagisho Dikgacoi’s inclusion, despite the fact he can’t get a game at Fulham, or indeed the fact that Bernard Parker has spent the last three months on the bench at FC Twente and Sthembiso Ngcobo is no more a bit part player at Kaizer Chiefs.
In years gone by, almost 50 percent of the national team players drawn from clubs in Europe would return home to play in Bafana colours despite a lack of game time at the clubs.
This is no new phenomenon.
Lucas Radebe was picked to play for the country’s1996 African Nations Cup winning team despite months of inactivity and went on to play a pivotal role in a triumphant team.
There was a time when Helman Mkhalele won caps for Bafana Bafana when he did not have a club.
It is, of course, preferable to have players who are match fit, in fine form and well conditioned. But given the small pool of quality available for South Africa, this is not always possible … and Wednesday is no exception.
Coach Pitso Mosimane’s selection has no glaring omissions. There is no obvious candidate for the squad who has been overlooked, who could have taken the place of Modise.
He might not be in favour at Pirates but there is no doubt there is still the kind of special quality at his disposal that can be of service to the country.
If Bafana Bafana had a policy of only picking players who were getting weekly club action, the national side would be in serious trouble.
Take Wednesday’s strike force for example. With Katlego Mphela out injured, Bernard Parker steps up as the main attacker. But he has virtually not kicked a ball in decent competition for the last three months. Bafana do not have the luxury to shelve, or any other quality player for that matter.
Modise needs a confidence booster and a chance to show his ability. It is unlikely Mosimane will have him in the starting line-up but he could come onto play a role later in the game.
If given the chance, Modise needs to show the skills, incisive passing and shooting of old. His problem is he has been trying too hard to live up, on the field, to the image he has created off it.
If he gets back to what he is good at and play for the team rather than himself, it will a poignant reminder of his potential.Mark Gleeson is a respected television commentator and Editorial Director of Mzanzi Football.Disclaimer:
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