S'Busiso Mseleku

Bafana's flop raises questions

2013-06-18 12:32
S'Busiso Mseleku (File)
Bafana Bafana’s loss to Ethiopia which has resulted to their failure to qualify for next year’s Soccer World Cup in Brazil, takes our football light years back and again raises some regular questions some of which have been asked ad nauseum.

GALLERY: Ethiopia v Bafana Bafana

VIDEO: Bafana Bafana's own goal

In this column, I am not even going to entertain that FIFA is investigating whether Ethiopia fielded an ineligible player in their 2-1 victory over Botswana.

Reality is that we were in a group of four nations and we did not do enough on the field during the allocated matches to qualify for the next round of the qualifiers.

Cast your mind back to the time when the draw was made. There was undiluted euphoria in which even some of the so-called “experts” or analysts added fire by telling anyone who would listen to their drivel that “we (South Africa) are in an easy group”.

Those of us who pointed out to problems facing our country’s football and dared to point out that given where are standard is, “kukude engqinibeni” – an IsiXhosa saying meaning its mission impossible - were labeled as doomsayers or prophets of doom.

As mentioned above, the loss and failure to qualify, brings about a lot of questions. One of the first questions that must have come to many people’s minds must have been: Given that Gordon Igesund was set two mandates when he was appointed to reach at least the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations and to qualify the team for Brazil - what happens now that he has failed on both?

Has the South African Football Association (SAFA) leadership that breezed into office in 2009 via the Transformation ticket, really transformed South African football?

A close scrutiny would show that the team has still not qualified for any major competition since participating in the 2008 Afcon in Ghana, where they were bundled out in the first round.

During the tenure of the current leadership that ends in September, our football national team only took part in the 2010 World Cup by virtue of being hosts – an event that most of the current executive cannot claim credit for because they only came into office with less than a year to go and most spadework had been done, failed to qualify for AFCON 2012 and only participated as hosts in the 2013 version.

Now, president Kirsten Nematandani says he needs another four-year-term as “my Technical Master Plan will be properly implemented in the next four years.”

Question is: What stopped him from implementing his plans in the past four years or even those that were contained in the Football Transformation Forum (FTF) Manifesto, which actually enticed the voting regions to put him at the helm of South African football?

Another question that begs an answer is: Do we have good enough and suitably qualified coaches in this country to lead out national team to greater heights?

The current record suggest not.

So what needs to be done?

I will repeat some of the things I have said, albeit in different platforms. Our football needs visionary leaders.

SAFA needs a complete overhaul from the leadership, there must be a clean sweep at the September elections where young and energetic blood is needed, the administration must be streamlined to conform with modern standards, get rid of several dinosaurs who have been in those offices for ages some of whom who didn’t even get there because of what they know but whom they knew at the time.

I mean, the SAFA head office even have staff members who are past the pensionable age but they still draw salaries some without even lifting a finger.

Dismantle the current national team except a few players who are performing well and replace most of the team with Under-23 players whose average age will be 28, come the 2018 World Cup.

That our development structures need to be upgraded dramatically and like yesterday, is a foregone conclusion.

Should these happen, we will soon have a national team that we will be proud of.

But it needs strong characters who will not curry favour with anyone and have no holy cows to be able to implement all of these things. Otherwise, our football will continue to share the kennels with the canines.

S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

Read more on:    bafana bafana  |  s'busiso mseleku  |  soccer
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