Johannesburg - When you hit rock bottom, there is no way but up – so goes the old adage.
News that Bafana Bafana – the supposed jewel in the South African football crown – have dropped 14 places to be ranked 80th by Fifa, came as a punch felt in the pit of the stomach.
However, nothing more was expected following the embarrassing back-to-back defeat at the hands of Cape Verde.
All sorts of questions have been asked as the blame game played itself out.
Yours truly feels that the current situation provides a great opportunity for the SA Football Association (Safa) to show quality in leadership by steering this ship clear of the stormy and murky waters in which it finds itself.
Nothing will earn Safa more plaudits than to see it come up with a turnaround strategy and then implement it successfully.
Safa, as the national governing body, is in charge of all football structures in this country.
From a six-year-old urchin called Tshifiwa in Nzelele to eight-year-old Vakuthethwa in the backwaters of Qoboqobo, 11-year-old Tetemani in KwaMhlabuyalingana and Tafiq in the Cape Flats, as long as they kick a football, they are Safa’s responsibility.
All the brittle-boned imaginary boys mentioned above have only one dream – to one day play for Bafana Bafana.
And when Bafana Bafana sneeze, the entire football fraternity, including followers and armchair critics, catch a cold.
As a country, we tend to be too harsh on ourselves, sometimes in almost all spheres of life.
As a great believer in the good in humanity, I do believe that we have world-class leaders in this country and even within football.
Proof is the 2010 World Cup, which we hosted with such aplomb, with then global football head honcho Sepp Blatter rating it the “best” World Cup ever.
Prior to that, Mzansi football administrators, led by the trio then known as the “Three Musketeers” – Molefi Oliphant, Irvin Khoza and Danny Jordaan – fought tooth and nail, claiming “we wuz robbed” after Germany pipped South Africa to the rights to host the 2006 global event.
So determined were they that they took the matter up with the highest sports court on the globe and roped in the best legal brains internationally.
It was that fighting spirit that led to Fifa deciding to rotate the hosting of the World Cup through the six continents. This put an end to the monotonous two-way hosting of the event in either Europe or South America that had been the status quo in Fifa’s almost 100 years of existence, with South Korea/Japan having tasted the fruit of hosting only once – in 2002.
It was South Africa’s fight that led to Fifa introducing the rotation system.
Africa became the first continent to benefit from this system, hence South Africa hosted the first World Cup on this continent’s soil.
It is this kind of bulldog-like tenacity that one is calling for in finding and administering the remedy that is needed to get Bafana out of their current quagmire.
Bafana do not inspire any confidence in their present state.
Can Safa – under the leadership of Jordaan – change tack and focus solely on football? Can it avoid being caught up in sideshows that involve individual spats, politics and the like, and concentrate only on matters football?
We know it can do it if it puts its mind to it.
The calamity facing Bafana Bafana needs vision and swift action.
One can only hope that, from being in the not-so-awe-inspiring 80th position, Bafana Bafana will rise again.
Rather than take this current situation as a failure, Safa must take it as a challenge from which South African football can rise like the proverbial phoenix.
They would do well to heed the words of UK novelist and screenwriter Joanne Rowling, who writes under the pen names JK Rowling and Robert Galbraith: “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”
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