S'Busiso Mseleku

Olympic Games brings sense of déjà vu

2016-08-08 14:25
S’Busiso Mseleku (File)

A look at the women's log of Group E in the Rio Olympic Games and Group A in the male section at the end of the weekend must have given South African soccer followers a sense of déjà vu,

Both South African soccer teams at the Olympic Games in Brazil - Banyana Banyana and the SA Under-23 male team - propped up their respective tables.

In fact, Banyana have already been dumped out of the tournament following back-to-back losses to Sweden (1-0) and China (2-0). These scores mean that their encounter against the hosts, Brazil, is just a formality that they will play with their bags already packed and the plane bringing them back home already warming up its engines at the airport.

While they were outplayed by China in the second match, they were unlucky to lose their opening match after holding the fancied Swedes for long periods.

That was until a blunder by goalkeeper Roxanne Barker led to a late goal.

The male team still has a chance to proceed after holding a Neymar-led Brazil Under-23 side to a goalless draw in their opener.

They went on to put up another gallant performance against Denmark, only to concede a late strike from Robert Skov at the Mane Garrincha Stadium.

This means they can still make it if they win their last match against Iraq on Wednesday. This after Brazil were held to their second goalless draw by the same Iraq.

Again, we find one of our teams facing a do-or-die final group match at an international tournament.

For Banyana Banyana it is back to the proverbial drawing board, a position that South Africa has found itself in so many times since acceptance to the global football family in 1992.

The women's team bombed out at the first round at the London Olympic Games in 2012 as well. The current scenario means that they haven’t taken a step forward since four years ago.

Seeing both South African teams at the bottom of their respective logs also points to a possibility of both teams being knocked out in the first round for the umpteenth time.

Bafana Bafana suffered the same fate at their last Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) outing the last time around.

It was the same with the Under-17 and Under-20 teams in their global tournaments.

This means while South African football teams seem to have managed to master the art of qualifying for major tournaments, they are now faced with the hurdle of managing to move beyond the first round.

This is the headache that our soccer authorities need to attend to and find a solution. We cannot go to every major tournament only to make up the numbers.

Something must give.

Here is hoping that Amaglug-glug - the Under-23’s - will win on Wednesday and at least make it to the next round

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.

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