Mark Gleeson

Bafana's grand plan a failure

2009-11-17 13:44
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
Mark Gleeson

Bafana Bafana end their year against Jamaica in Bloemfontein on Tuesday night seeking to win a match for only the sixth time in 2009.

Given the side will have had a total of 18 internationals in a busy year of pre-World Cup preparations, it is a win percentage of some 33.3 percent – a fail mark if the school examination system is still the same as it was when I was last in the classroom.

To make it even worse the scalps the side managed to pin to their belt were decidedly lightweight – Zambia, Madagascar, New Zealand, a Norwegian side out of their depth in the sunshine and an experimental Poland team on a post-season holiday.

Admittedly there has been a tough list of opponents for the team over the past 12 months but that was by design.

The grand plan, you’ll remember, was to spend 2007 and 2008 identifying the players and then 2009 honing the side by throwing them into the deep end against top teams like Germany and Portugal.

On paper, the master plan established by Carlos Alberto Parreira, and continued by Joel Santana, had merit.

But, in the end, all it proved was that this remains a results orientated game, no matter how much the coaches insisted otherwise.

Santana comically said he has ever heard of a coach fired because of his results in friendly matches and then promptly got sacked. Eight defeats in nine matches were unpalatable, even for a side supposed still learning their craft.

On review, the three years of preparation have failed. Parreira did not admit as much on Monday but he did say Bafana Bafana were a side without confidence, spirit or even happiness. The continuing run of defeats has drained them and the players are nervous, anxious and almost defeatist. They look as if they are carrying the burden of the world’s troubles on their shoulders.

Key performers like Teko Modise, Siphiwe Tshabalala and Tsepo Masilela have niggling injuries they cannot shake off. As a result their performances have been disappointing of late and now even their places are in jeopardy.

Katlego Mphela cannot seem to translate his club form to national team level even though, ironically, his run of goals and new found confidence at Mamelodi Sundowns has come on the back of the goals he scored in June’s Confederations Cup.

Time is no longer on the team’s side. As the magnificent stadiums rise up to enchant the world of football, so Bafana Bafana cowers in the corner. The juxtaposition is dangerous.

With 200 days left to go before the kick-off of the 2010 finals, victory is imperative in the next matches for the team. The upcoming training camps have to transform the players into super fit machines and the preparatory games must now be hand picked to ensure that the confidence returns.

Millions of rands have been ploughed into preparing this team for the 2010 World Cup but with six months to go the red light is still flashing wildly. We want to see it change to green.

Mark Gleeson is a respected television commentator and Editorial Director of Mzanzi Football.

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.


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