Bafana's bizarre CHAN failure

2017-08-21 14:15
Sy Lerman (File)

Cape Town - A chronicle of Bafana Bafana's failure to qualify for next year's ill-timed, mishmash CHAN Finals after the last chapter was enacted on Saturday in the 2-0 and 4-2 aggregate preliminary round loss against Zambia at Ndola's Levy Mwanawasa Stadium, would fit snugly among kibitzer Ripley's "Believe it or Not" teasers.

But incredulous as it might seem, the event in its entirety is swathed in truth, even though the existence of the tournament in its entirety might be considered by many to be more suited to the realms of fiction.

In the first place, contrary to its official status as an event in which games are entrusted with international status - although not recognised by FIFA as an official tournament - CHAN, or the African Champions Cup, is not open to many of the best players from the competing countries.

CAF has decreed that only players who are participating in leagues in their own designated countries are eligible to play in CHAN - and this alone should disqualify the games from enjoying official international status.

Yet CAF in its wisdom has decreed otherwise - even though as a tournament not recognised by FIFA, clubs are not bound to release players for CHAN matches.

And with the Bafana-Zambia matches coinciding with the launch of the Premier League programme, it was not surprising that not a single club released its best players.

The consequence of this was that South Africa effectively fielded a third-string combination made up of players who are not good enough to be regarded first-choices by their clubs in all CHAN qualifying games.

And making the situation more bizarre, after hapless coach Stuart Baxter was forced into selecting second-string players, 10 of those chosen withdrew - thereby recognising the final depleted product as a Bafana team and awarding the players full South African international colours was nothing short of farcical.

But, at the root of the problem is the fact that on a congested international programme there is simply no room for another event with CHAN's shortcomings and problems.

While Europe, for example, deals with two major tournaments, the World Cup and the Nations Cup, in addition to two qualifying rounds in each four-year cycle, numbering four segments in all, African nations  in a similar period must cope with the World Cup, a biennial Nations Cup and a biennial CHAN, with qualifying rounds adding up to 10 separate segments.

To grant CHAN games full international status is not only misleading, but grossly superfluous on CAF's international program.
In its existing make-up, it not only creates a spate of international Bafana caps, with a detrimental effect on South Africa's FIFA world ranking as well.

A problem, it would seem, SAFA should surely be tackling, instead of acquiescing meekly to the "believe it or not" shortcomings.  

Read more on:    bafana bafana  |  chan  |  soccer


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