Bafana Bafana

SAFA's '2022 Vision' blinded SA soccer to the realities of 2018

2017-11-16 14:21
Sy Lerman (File)
Cape Town - It was hailed on its launch by SAFA a couple of years ago as the panacea for the ailments of South African soccer.

Instead what the "2022 Vision" gimmick, trumpeted by SAFA president Danny Jordaan in particular, achieved was to blind South African soccer's administration to the urgent issues pertaining in 2017 in general and qualifying for the 2018 World Cup finals in particular.

Why indeed devise a programme for South African soccer to reach a respected international level by 2022 when such a status had already been reached as far back as 1996 when the African Nations Cup was won and Soccer World Cup qualification had been reached in both 1998 and 2002?

And now with the usual, hysterical, if often unbalanced "blame game" pursued  at full speed after Bafana Bafana's dismal results while finishing bottom of the four-team qualifying group, it is SAFA, in the first instance, who stand culpable for the catastrophic failure to make it to Russia next year.

While lauding themselves for relatively minor achievements linked for no good reason to the distant "2022 Vision", SAFA dithered for six months after the stormy dismissal of Shakes Mashaba as Bafana coach towards the end of last year, before eventually coming up with the urbane and well-intentioned Stuart Baxter.

With World Cup qualification on the horizon and an urgent plan to achieve this  paramount issue clearly the priority, SAFA should have come up with a new permanent coach within a month - no matter what the merits of firing Mashaba at that juncture.

Instead Owen de Gama, who had done a good job as Bafana's assistant coach and had as good an idea of Bafana  players  as anyone, was delegated the job of caretaker coach while finding himself between the devil and the deep blue sea and apparently not even regarded a candidate for the position on a permanent basis.

If the dedicated Baxter was SAFA's choice, he should have been made the Bafana coach a good four months earlier, remembering, of course, that after his appointment he still continued bizarrely as a dual coach while at the helm of SuperSport United for a further two months.

Critics who might fit the bill of the wise old sage who labelled them "the people who come out of the hills to shoot the wounded after the battle," are now targeting Baxter.

But, in the circumstances, this is surely unkind to someone who knows his profession well and had only a minimum of time to put his ideas into practice and gain a more comprehensive knowledge of all the various Bafana candidates.

Next to SAFA, blame should be apportioned to many of the players, who apart for their undoubted skill and potential are still blighted with a degree of immaturity and essential ability to perform in the soccer kitchen when the heat is on.

No one exhibited these shortcomings  and lack of loyalty more than Thulani Serero who made the astounding demand to Baxter to be included in the starting line-up in the last-ditch games against Senegal - otherwise he would not make himself available for the squad.

With a degree of paradoxical irony, some have suggested that the shock Bafana victory against Nigeria in an African Nations Cup qualifier soon after Baxter took over, actually did more harm than good insofar as World Cup qualification was concerned.

It tended to magnify an element of complacency in the entire Bafana camp before the games against the modest Cape Verde Islands, with the two losses in those games effectively the final nails in South Africa's World Cup coffin.

But, on the other side of the coin in what has manifested itself into a gloomy picture, is that if the referee cheated in helping Bafana beat Senegal in what was the replayed game against "The Lions of Teranga" it was a jarring blow not of the players making.

Bafana were also palpably unlucky when they outplayed Senegal for much of the replayed match and produced a polished performance in the win over Burkina Faso.

But planning and producing disciplined, professional and inventive performances on a consistent basis should have been the target  now - not in 2022!

Read more on:    swc 2018  |  sy lerman  |  soccer

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