SAFA aims for better 2012
Robin Petersen (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - The SA Football Association (SAFA) intends to reverse the failures of 2011 with a far-reaching programme for 2012, CEO Robin Petersen said on Wednesday.
"Rightly or wrongly and whether we like it or not, SAFA is judged by the achievements of the national teams, principally Bafana Bafana," Petersen told reporters in Johannesburg.
"The failure to qualify for the forthcoming African Nations Cup tournament in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon and the Olympic Games men's event, among a number of other deflating results, has resulted in the nation giving us a dismal fail mark for 2011."
He stressed that SAFA's priorities to reverse the trend were to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, host a successful African Nations Cup in 2013 and improve on a current world ranking of 52.
Petersen said the importance of a successful Bafana team to the nation as a whole could not be over-emphasised.
"I do not think I am exaggerating that, when Bafana are doing well there is an air of optimism throughout the country. A failed Bafana results in gloom and despair."
Petersen said SAFA, as the country's controlling body for soccer, was the largest organisation in South Africa, with more than 2.5 million affiliated players.
"More registered members than even the ANC, but to succeed we need to lay the right foundation on the playing, coaching and administrative level," Petersen said.
"I have put together an intricate programme which I hope will springboard us onto the right track for what is an enormous undertaking among our 52 affiliates."
SAFA's malaise of 2011 however, was still evident in the bungled manner in which Bafana games against Zambia and Ghana had been downgraded from official international matches to training exercises.
In the association's defence Petersen claimed much had already been achieved as part of the legacy of hosting the 2010 World Cup, with artificial pitches and other key amenities already erected in 26 of the 52 provincial affiliates.
Technological advancements had also been introduced to help the national coaches in gauging the ability, strengths and weaknesses of players, as well as in the administration of the organisation.
A system had also been implemented whereby the competence of SAFA staff at all levels would be judged by a panel that would also include the media.
Petersen conceded that securing the release of players from their clubs for international fixtures that did not fall in the FIFA period remained a world-wide one, and could only be resolved at FIFA level.
South African soccer also needed to decide whether to continue with the current season from August to May, or revert to the February to November season implemented by the Confederation of African Football and which was in force in South Africa up to 1997.