Mark Gleeson

Meetings about meetings

2011-10-24 07:24
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
Mark Gleeson
The Premier Soccer League met this week to discuss the prospect of its top clubs allowing players to go and compete in the upcoming Olympic Games qualifiers.

They agreed … to set up another meeting.

It has been months now since the clash of dates was confirmed and yet the league vacillates. More specifically its chairman Irvin Khoza, who has had ample opportunity to make a call to help South Africa’s Olympic cause but said last week he was asking SAFA for an “urgent meeting”.

Meeting? Urgent? Why? It is in the ambit only for the PSL to come to the rescue here.

The dilemma is not too testing. There is a good opportunity for South Africa to atone for the Nations Cup debacle by qualifying for next year’s Olympics.

A chance for the collective good of the South African game, badly damaged by the Bafana Bafana fiasco earlier this month.

To strengthen the chances of the Under-23 team going to the Olympics Games, they need to take as strong a squad as possible to the tournament in Morocco where the odds are stacked against them.

As it is, it is highly unlikely that foreign based players like Thulani Serero, Kamohelo Mokgotjo and Darren Keet will be released by their Belgian and Dutch clubs, already depriving the Under-23 side of key elements. But by being able to select the best youngsters from the PSL, coach Shakes Mashaba’s chances of ensuring qualification is vastly enhanced. The man has done miracles with scarps already; imagine what is possible with a decently competent selection.

But clubs are not obliged to release players because the dates of the tournament fall outside of FIFA’s calendar for national team games.

It needs to be a magnanimous decision, one of good will and patriotism. And a voluntarily one by the clubs.

But they don’t seem to want to see the big picture. They are still pondering whether clubs should suffer missing players for a few games later this month and early December or to postpone matches affected by absent players to a later date.

There are many ready solutions that the PSL seem unable to embrace. They have been skirting around the issue for weeks and still seem to need discussions rather than decisions.

This is the kind of indecision, inactivity and incompetence that damages the local game and makes it the subject of so much derision. Too many selfish interests cloud the picture.

You can bet in all the other African countries, who will be sending teams to the tournament, their leagues and clubs will offer up the best players to the Under-23 side to ensure a best chance of the prestige of competing at the London Games. They know the value of international success and what it does to the good name of their football.

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

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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