SA soccer 'lacks development'
Roger de Sa (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - One coach had just beaten the other in a bruising PSL encounter on Saturday, but once the topic turned to development, both Orlando Pirates coach Roger de Sa and his Free State Stars counterpart, Steve Komphela, were in firm agreement - there simply is not enough being done to grow the game in South Africa.
The Premiership mentors believed poor development structures resulted in a lack of consistency and tactical nous in top-flight soccer in the country.
"I think it goes down to development," De SA said after the Buccaneers bagged a 1-0 victory at Orlando Stadium.
"I don't think we have genuine development structures where we can coach players from a young 11, 12-year-old to become a professional.
"Ajax [Cape Town] do it now, but that's it. Very few clubs have got that system going.
"We feel it at professional level when they get to the top and we haven't really worked on them.
"That's why we always say that, tactically, we are a poor footballing nation still.
"Technically we're very good, but tactically we're still way behind and it comes out from development structures."
Komphela said a lack of consistency at the highest level was affecting the growth of the game.
"To me I attribute it to inconsistency in terms of levels of concentration and focus," Komphela said.
"This takes me back to what (former Platinum Stars coach) Miguel Gamondi once mentioned - the problem with South African players is that they are not consistent enough to win one match after the other and continue.
"It, however, is a catch-22 of the modern South African game. Coaches are not given enough time to produce unrealistic results, and subsequently when the losses start to mount, the knee-jerk reaction is to give the coach the chop.
"It is one thing that we coaches start thinking about and working on.
"As much as we go to every match and say, 'let me not bungle this one and look at the next', we always demand from the players to win matches, and if it's not happening there's a whole lot of other questions."
Komphela hinted towards the model of English club Arsenal where Arsene Wenger has been in charge since 1996.
In that time Wenger's side has secured a record run of 49 unbeaten league matches.
"For me the quality in our team - do you have players with the mental strength to go five, six, 49 matches (unbeaten) like Arsenal? "Even for them it came from years of working, keeping to the same philosophy.
"Sometimes we change a lot of things, whether it be structure, personnel, or even belief."
Results are garnered through a lengthy period of hard work, according to Komphela, who again pointed abroad for an example.
"If you are chasing a result, you are not as patient as (Spanish outfit) Barcelona.
"They don't care, they play the same way whether they win or lose.
"With us, we change. What effect does it have in terms of your team consistently winning?
"So the team lacks belief in terms of how we do things."