Augusto Palacios (Gallo Images)
Rio de Janeiro - The South African Football Association (SAFA) should have emulated Kenya and sent a shadow Bafana Bafana squad to the World Cup, as an early build-up for the bid to qualify for the tournament in Russia in 2018.
Former Bafana coach Augusto Palacios said he commended the enterprise of Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta.
Kenyatta will personally contribute about R1.4 million of the overall cost of more than R2m in sending the Harambee Stars on an intensive 10-day trip to Brazil.
They hoped to see host nation Brazil, Argentina, and Nigeria, among others, in action and experience the atmosphere and requirements of a World Cup.
The rest of the money for the trip would come in the form of a R500 000 sponsorship from East African Breweries.
Palacios said he was sure sponsors for a similar venture could have been found in South Africa.
"I do not suggest anyone should pay the money out of their own pocket," said the long-time Peruvian-born coach who has been in South Africa for more than 30 years.
He is currently heading the Orlando Pirates' development programme.
"But I believe SAFA and the organisation's sponsors would have had the means to conduct a similar operation had someone come up with the idea of sending the core of the team that will be representing South Africa in 2018 to experience what goes into a World Cup in Brazil.
"This would have been a lot more valuable than sending some of the officials who are in Brazil for what is effectively a nice holiday trip."
Palacios said while the comprehensive media and TV coverage was beneficial, it was essential to be at World Cup venues to comprehend the technical and emotional requirements that go into playing in a World Cup.