Bafana Bafana

CAF competitions stymie Bafana's progress

2015-07-10 13:00
Shakes Mashaba (Supplied)

Cape Town - Not noted for its meaningful enterprise and initiative, the Confederation of African Football Association's seemingly short-sighted and compulsive policy of increasing the number of international competitions and events does nothing to help coach Shakes Mashaba and his battling Bafana Bafana.

This was evident this week when Bafana's FIFA ranking dropped a further disconcerting place to 70th in the world and 16th in Africa - with no apparent progress towards SAFA's trumpeted "2022 Vision"  to reach a world top 20 place, top three in Africa and make a significant impact in the World Cup by that year.

With CAF having introduced the two-yearly African Nations Championship (CHAN) for players plying their trade on the continent, in addition to the two-yearly African Nations Cup (AFCON), with both requiring qualifying segments; World Cup qualifying games and possible inclusion in the finals, African nations face a potentially endless and arduous 10 international events in every four-year cycle.

In contrast, countries in Europe and South America, who dominate world football generally and the World Cup in particular, are involved in a more manageable maximum of four such events every four years.

And on top of this imbalance, Bafana are also required to participate in Southern Africa's COSAFA Cup instead of mapping out a more balanced programme to include a number of revealing friendly encounters with some of the world's top teams.

"In truth it's like being suffocated in a straight jacket," said one official. "Why many South Africans were not even aware beforehand that Bafana were playing Mauritius in two CHAN Cup qualifying games.

"Now there is a further round of CHAN qualifying games, AFCON qualifying games, World Cup qualifiers, the CHAN Finals, another COSAFA Cup and the next African Nations Finals as well if we qualify.

"It makes you dizzy simply thinking about it. But that's what CAF have put into place and we have to go along with it."

FIFA, in addition, do not recognise the CHAN or COSAFA events as official tournaments, meaning that results in games like those against Mauritius can be categorised as a hiding to nothing - with victories of little benefit in securing world ranking points, but defeats against such minnows particularly costly.

Not easy being the Bafana coach, it would seem, while sorting out what squad to piece together for each of the various events.

Just ask Shakes for confirmation!

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