Mark Gleeson

SAFA get your act together

2011-01-24 06:38
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
Mark Gleeson

Pitso Mosimane has finally been granted an opportunity to prepare his side again before the crunch match in March against Egypt.

The South African Football Association have secured Burkina Faso as an opponent for Bafana Bafana on the first international match day of the year on February 9.

The game is set for the Royal Bafokeng Stadium outside of Rustenburg.

The February date is one of those specifically reserved in FIFA’s co-ordinated international calendar for national teams. It is obligatory for clubs to release their players for these dates and, as a result, Mosimane should have his full squad on hand for the game.

More importantly, it is a chance to prepare for the match on March 26 against Egypt. That encounter, presumably at Soccer City but not yet confirmed by SAFA, is the key tie in the Nations Cup qualifying group where South Africa already have a lead over Egypt and can extend it to six points if they win.

To properly prepare for the game against Egypt, Mosimane had asked SAFA to fix him friendlies against one of the other top north African sides. He felt similar styles, notably the robust approach of the Arabic-speaking nations, would be of great benefit in preparing to meet Egypt.

But by the time SAFA got around to enquiry of the likes of Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, they had already fixed up friendly matches with other opponents.

That left SAFA having to scramble around and resultantly Burkina Faso will come to Phokeng, probably not the best suited opponent for Bafana Bafana but when, as the saying goes, the early bird catches the worm.

Essentially, it is poor planning on the part of SAFA, who don’t seem to be able to look ahead.

It is amazing that they cannot sort out the programme for the national team in good time, so that the coach, his players and the fans know what is coming up.

FIFA’s co-ordinated calendar is published on their website and the calendar for each year up to 2014 has long been available.

Several of the 2011 dates are already taken up by qualifying matches for the 2012 Nations Cup. In March we play Egypt and then away in June again. In September there is a game against Niger and the national side finishes at home in October against Sierra Leone … hopefully top of the group.

On top of that there are dates in August and November for friendly games. And if SAFA so desire, they are also entitled to fix a game for the national side in late May once the league is finished and be able to get all the players.

Before Bafana travel to Egypt on the first weekend of June, Mosimane should be given a warm-up game, preferably somewhere else in north Africa against a team of similar style to Egypt.

In August, the side should try and fix a game somewhere in west Africa so that the players have an idea of what will come a month later when they travel to Niger.

Alternatively, a game at home (which means more revenue for SAFA) can be fixed against a west African side.

Hopefully once we qualify, there should be a match against a team of real international in November. South Africa usually use that date for the Mandela Challenge match and last year we had the Americans in Cape Town and a wonderful crowd to watch. Hopefully SAFA have already started talking to a European or South American team.

Past experience is that SAFA usually wake up to these possibilities too late and then find that top teams have already scheduled fixtures. Do they not realise the world of football does not sit around waiting for SAFA to slowly make up their mind.

To be able to do justice to the national team, the association’s top brass must move swiftly and close the necessary deals. Fans in this country deserve better service.

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.

Read more on:    safa  |  fifa  |  pitso mosimane

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