Absa Premiership

Sundowns' failure exposes African soccer

2016-12-17 10:31
Pitso Mosimane (Gallo Images)

In a class of their own in the PSL right now and effectively the number one team in Africa by virtue of annexing CAF's Champions League trophy, Mamelodi Sundowns' ill-fated campaign in FIFA's Club World Cup in Japan tends paradoxically to expose further African soccer in its entirety.

And for those who might view this assessment from Sundowns' two defeats in their two games against Japan's Kashima Antlers (2-0) and South Korea's Jeonbuk Hyundai (4-1) to be in the realms of  an exaggeration, it is as well to be reminded of the fact that no African nation has as yet progressed beyond the quarter-finals of the Soccer World Cup and no African club has annexed the Club World Cup either.

Remember too the great Pele's optimistic assertion in 1988 that an African nation would emerge as World Cup winners before the turn of the 2000?

It has, of course, not materialised in spite of the Brazilian icon's excitement over the potential talent he believed existed among African players.

This potential does to a considerable degree exist and this is proved by the notable success of many African footballers like Abedi Pele, Yaya Toure, Nwankwo Kanu, Jay-Jay Okocha, Samuel Eto'o, Didier Drogba and Emmanuel Adebayor, who have played dominant roles in the testing environment of European football.

So a valid assumption is that it is not the playing potential that is missing in Africa, but the administration of the game and the calibre of coaching that is available in Africa that remains wanting to some considerable degree.

In order to fulfill their talent to a maximum level, it would seem, African players still have to migrate to Europe or certain other countries round the globe.

And so Sundowns failure in finishing sixth among the seven competing teams in Japan - and, who knows, it could have been seventh if a match-up had been in place against bottom-of-the-heap Auckland City - tends to confirm what is a difficult-to-stomach prognosis following the defeats against two Asian teams who emerged from a continent supposedly with a lot less talent than their African counterparts.

The elimination of blaise over-expectation, more streamlined, sophisticated and gruelling coaching routines and administrators whose priority is for the game itself and not their own egos are areas which need urgent attention before Pele's prediction is belatedly achieved.

Until then teams embedded in Africa will continue to taste at the highest level the bitter pill that hit Sundowns with the impact of a sledgehammer in Japan.

Read more on:    mamelodi sundowns  |  soccer

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