Tumo Mokone

Woza 2010, year of reckoning

2009-12-18 12:53
Tumo Mokone (file)
Tumo Mokone

South African football did not experience enough highlights in 2009 to declare the passing year a successful one.

Top of the list of mishaps was the forgettable stint by former Bafana Bafana coach Joel Santana. I think his eventual firing qualifies as one of the few highlights!

It must be noted though that his expulsion came after the instatement of the new SA Football Association’s president, Kirsten Nematandani. The new incumbent governs with lieutenants who are seen to be using a different philosophy from the previous Molefi Oliphant’s executive. Magnanimity and big decisions are expected from the new SAFA president, and with immediate effect. But after Oliphant’s 12-year reign, Nematandani and his crew deserve a little more time to settle in.

However the rumour mill has it that the new executive will have a torrid time after the World Cup, fending off the ambitions of defeated faction from the landmark SAFA election in September. The losing camp is led by Irvin Khoza, whose powers in the local game were remarkably reduced by the unexpected victory by Nematandani. The new throne though, is strengthened by the fact that he is from the Danny Jordaan camp.

According to the same speculation above, Khoza and Jordaan, respectively chairperson and CEO of the 2010 World Cup LOC, have made a silent pact to bury the hatchet until the World Cup is over, for South Africa’s sake. And that once the FIFA people leave the country, the battle for the leadership of SAFA would resume.

One hopes this prophecy is far fetched, and that SA football will grow from strength to strength after the world cup. Everything about the game of football in SA must change after the cup. Fortunately the Premier Soccer League appears to be ready to contend and benefit from the impact the FIFA tournament is going to have on the game.

Completed talks

In his last media briefing on Wednesday, PSL chief executive Kjetil Siem said his organisation has completed talks with the German Bundesliga, to establish an alliance in technical matters. Siem said they are expecting to learn from Germans how they streamlined the spin-offs of the 2006 World Cup to benefit German football at the elite level.

Siem added that the Germans were also looking forward to learn from the PSL about certain aspects of business. If this pact is signed early in the new year, according to the PSL boss, then the gesture will stand out as the first positive step into 2010 for SA football. The Bundesliga is one of the biggest leagues in the world, and even more crucial, one of the long-standing and best organised football leagues around.

I don’t want to dwell much on the negatives in 2009, like the failure by our clubs to reach the mini-league stage of the CAF Champions League, or our fall in the FIFA ranking – down to the mid-80s. The resignation of PSL general manager Andile Ncobo amid allegations of match-fixing is another low point. Fortunately, the Judge Graham Mushwana’s commission – which began its work before Ncobo’s departure last month – will deliver its report to SAFA early in the new year.

There were encouraging improvements at development level, like the revival of women’s soccer’s structures, thanks to sponsorship from Absa and Sasol, as well as the qualifying of the Under-20 boys for the World Cup. The PSL is not doing badly, despite the expulsion of Ncobo. So far only adverse weather has posed threat to harmony in the proceedings. But more needs to be done to have truly professional operations in place.

On that note, everything points to 2010 to be a year of reckoning for SA football. The World Cup is going to have a remedial impact on the local game, pertaining to how we view the sport and philosophies which we use to run football. Granted, the World Cup is a FIFA event. But there is a great opportunity for SA to produce a magical atmosphere which the world will remember for many years to come.

Tumo writes exclusively for Sport24.

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.

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