Mark Gleeson

Lay blame with bumbling SAFA

2010-04-20 09:15
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
Mark Gleeson

It was on May 15, 2004 that the 2010 Soccer World Cup was awarded to South Africa. 

Almost six years ago. In 50-odd days the event finally arrives amid a sense of wondrous anticipation.

And in all this time our sorry football association has not been able to organise a proper camp to stay in and, now it transpires, not been able to organise any decent warm-up matches either.

Does this come as a shock?

Dah, no!

We have watched our football run consistently badly by incompetents for more than a decade now and seen the fortunes of our national side plummet as a result.

The South African Football Association has for years been a refuge for those unable to get a job in the competitive market among clubs, a highly toxic and ineffective hive of those with protectors in high places and given jobs on the basis on long-standing friendships and deep connections. Millions of rands have been squandered on their salaries and perks while they wallow in idle chit-chat when they should be producing the footballers of tomorrow.

It is perhaps why SAFA so successfully managed to botch up the training camp arrangements and how South Africa came to be the only side without a base camp or field when the list of where the 32 World Cup finalists would be staying and practising was finalised in February.

It is also no surprise there have been no firings in the wake of this abject incompetence. Indeed, why have no heads rolled for the failure to find Bafana Bafana a place for the World Cup.

The other teams have been traveling to South Africa over the last two years, first researching all the available options and then making their selection.

They proffered their deposits and have often back since to ensure their requests for alterations, modifications and improvements have all been heeded by their South African hosts.

Our SAFA officials were all too happy to meet and show around all these top world coaches; Joachim Low, Raymond Domenech, Fabio Capello and remember all the fuss when Diego Maradona came.

But while they were swooning around like star-struck schoolboys, they forgot our own team.

Now comes the inevitable realisation we won’t be getting any testing warm-up games in the last weeks before the World Cup as the coach had requested.

Carlos Alberto Parreira made it persistently clear that if Bafana Bafana are to beat Mexico at Soccer City on June 11, and hopefully spark a decent World Cup campaign, the players need to have a pre-taste of the intimidatory noise and pressure that the venue will offer up.

One or two major tests at Soccer City in late May was what he asked SAFA to secure; that is, make sure there is a big enough team invited here for a pre-World Cup friendly to ensure that 90 000 would fill the stadium.

Let Bafana Bafana get used to the pressure so it is Mexico and not our lads who will feel the heat on June 11.

Surprise … SAFA have failed. Instead we have Colombia and Denmark to polish up our players – not exactly opponents that will ensure we have a 90 000-strong crowd on hand for the warm-up.

But that SAFA is still bumbling around in search of fixtures while the world’s top teams have long organised their World Cup tune-up programme is further evidence that South Africa is served by people unfit for the task.

How the other World Cup teams must be secretly laughing at our officials, but the sad thing is this is no laughing matter.

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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