Cape Town - I doubt that there is anyone who doesn’t know what I think of Bafana Bafana and their coach, Shakes Mashaba.
My views are quite public.
I have said in the past hat I see no logic in how the South African Football Association (SAFA) expects a man who failed to make the senior men’s team qualify as one of the 16 at next year’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals in Gabon to suddenly wave a magic wand and make them one of five African nations at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
I have also mentioned how puzzled I am – given the well-detailed Vision 2022 – that the bulk of the players who represented South Africa at the Rio Olympics (as the SA Under-23 squad), are not part of the Bafana Bafana set-up.
However, while the thinking and action in South African football always boggles the mind, we have become so used to it that some have even become immune.
Hence such decision are met with a shrug of the shoulders and a “What’s new?”.
Call me unpatriotic and I will tell you that I’m a realist and that I don’t see Bafana Bafana going to Russia in two year’s time.
The group they are in which, besides Senegal whom they play this weekend, also has Burkina Faso and Cape Verde, is tougher than the one that had Mauritania and Gambia for the Afcon qualifiers.
The 1-1 draw against The Stallions of Burkina Faso was a set-back that sees Bafana 2nd in the group with a mere point while Senegal has three already from a victory against the Cape Verde.
I am not an alarmist but looking at the 24-man star-studded team announced by coach, Aliou Cissé, sends shivers down my spine.
The team is made up of only two players who ply their trade on the continent with the rest playing for top sides in Europe, including red-hot Liverpool striker Sadio Mané, Newcastle’s midfielder Moumhamed Diamé and German’s Werder Bremen’s defender Fallou Diagne, to mention just three.
And on our front, Mashaba is excited about his latest discovery, the 25-year-old striker Lars Veldwijk who plies his trade in the Belgium top division. The player has previously played for Excelsior and PEC Zwolle in the Dutch Eredivisie after having an unsuccessful stint at Nottingham Forest in England.
The coach spoke effusively about his new find following a single training session this week.
I’ll tell you why I’m not overly excited.
One: It is not the first time that we “discover” some rare talent that qualifies to play for South Africa. And most of them have gone to disappoint, save a few such as Dean Furman.
Two: The fact that we are still discovering players at the age of 25 means that there is something very wrong with South African football’s method of tracking young talent.
But, what’s new?
Here is hoping that Bafana Bafana wins this weekend, make me eat loads of humble pie as well as swallow my hat.
If they don’t, it will be time to dismantle the entire team, fire the coach and replace it with the Under-23 players who went to Rio.
(S'Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning over 30 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor)