Bafana Bafana

Mbalula questions SA's pride

2014-06-01 11:17
Fikile Mbalula (Gallo Images)
Pretoria - The Minister of Sport and Recreation, Fikile Mbalula, has bemoaned the unprofessionalism from Bafana Bafana players following the withdrawal of 11 players from their recent Australasian tour due to "tiredness" and "injuries".

Mbalula believes South African players are still lacking the hunger and desire to represent their country with pride, despite their 'professional' status.

Players to have withdrawn from coach Gordon Igesund’s team include, among others, captain Itumeleng Khune, Simphiwe Tshabalala, Tshepo Masilela, Teko Modise, Bernard Parker, Sibusiso Vilakazi, Kagiso Dikgacoi and Siyanda Xulu.     

Igesund revealed before jetting off to Sydney last week that nine of those players were going to start the game against Australia.

Mbalula also stressed that the country needs to fight the attitude of taking the nation's pride for granted at the expense of individual pride.

He also referenced his comments with the fact that European players take their careers seriously as they play far more matches at club level and for their respective national teams - without complaining about fatigue.

“We need to fight those attitudes,” said Mbalula.

“Yes you might play too many games but that doesn’t take away your football appetite.

“We have players in Europe playing club football, Champions League and still go and represent their countries.

“Some of those players are going to play at the Soccer World Cup in Brazil next month.

“They will rest for a short period of time.

“Our players are lacking the correct interpretation of the word professionalism despite being professional footballers.

“If you are a professional footballer, you are like a teacher, nurse, doctor or a soldier who goes to work.

“Football is your profession and there is no point where you can say I can’t play football I need to rest.

“You need to be always ready for the challenge if you are asked to perform.

“It’s not about money, never compromise on the national pride."

The former ANC Youth League president also hailed the character shown by former Bafana players who were always available to honour the national call-ups, such as defenders Lucas Radebe and Mark Fish.

“Lucas Radebe and Mark Fish never disappointed in the past.

“They played in the best leagues in Europe at their prime time.

“Fish played in Italy and Lucas (Radebe) captained Leeds United for so many years.

“For many years until today, Lucas is respected in the country and Leeds because he never faulted.

“I honestly don’t know who is inspiring our current players.

“I don’t know where they are getting their attitudes of undermining their national duties.

“I’m waiting to hear from SAFA on what happened,” he concluded.

Bafana played to a 1-all draw against Australia last Monday thanks to an Ayanda Patosi strike, before Eric Mathoho deflected Tim Cahill’s header into his own net.

Igesund’s youthful squad then played to a goalless stalemate against New Zealand on Friday.

Read more on:    bafana bafana  |  fikile mbalula  |  soccer

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