Johannesburg - The SA Football Association (SAFA) must develop a scientific approach to the game if it hopes for the national team to compete at the highest level, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula said on Monday.
"We will solicit expert and scientific advice from leading thinkers in the field of sports sciences with a view to examine in a holistic sense the size, shape, and strengths of our football players, nutrition, access to modern technology, sports psychology, early childhood preparations for high performance sports, and so on," Mbalula said on Monday.
Bafana Bafana, ranked 22nd on the continent and 85th in the world, were eliminated by Mali in their Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinal in Durban on Saturday.
South Africa needed to make use of the lessons learned in major competitions, but a long-term plan was necessary to achieve success in global competitions.
"It's time now for all role-players in football to go back to the drawing board. We have started the building blocks on a positive note and can see a ray of hope looming large in the horizon.
"We need to draw our lessons from this AFCON tournament as we prepare for the qualifiers of the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil, but we need to urgently work on an overall and comprehensive long-term strategy for a scientific athlete development plan."
SAFA needed to work with "highly successful codes", such as rugby and cricket to share ideas.
Mbalula called on South Africans to support the AFCON tournament, despite the absence of the national team in the remaining playoff matches.
"We must, as we have done over the past three weeks, unflinchingly support all the teams that are participating in the semi-finals and the finals."