Did Safa suffer four years of hell?

2013-09-15 14:00

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No nomination for re-election is a message of no confidence, writes Timothy Molobi

Many view Kirsten Nematandani’s failure to attract a single nomination to retain his position as president of the SA Football Association (Safa) as a vote of no confidence. Others see his four-year tenure, which began in 2009, as “four years of hell” for SA football.

Indeed it has been a turbulent time, but he refuses to admit his term was a disaster.

Instead, he says his term was full of extremes – the hosting of a successful World Cup but poor performances by the national teams.

His detractors argue that the success of the 2010 shindig was guaranteed long before he became president as the rights were won in 2004 and the local organising committee had done all the spade work.

But the fact remains that the tournament was hosted during his tenure and he is well within his right to claim the credit.

Nematandani came in as a compromise candidate after the conduct of the main contenders, Danny Jordaan and Irvin Khoza, was questioned.

The worst scandal involving him was when his name was mentioned with four other Safa employees in a Fifa report on allegations of match-fixing in Bafana’s pre-World Cup matches.

“It was four years of excitement and disappointments,” said Nematandani this week.

“I’m not a failure. If I was, the organisation would have collapsed.”

He argued that there were many achievements during his leadership, citing the hosting of the 2010 World Cup, this year’s Africa Cup of Nations and the rise of women’s football.

It can’t be ignored that his leadership started on the back foot when he had to purge perceived enemies from the Football Transformation Forum.

These included Safa CEO Raymond Hack, who was seen as a Khoza ally.

Hack was sent packing and replaced by Leslie Sedibe in 2010, followed by Pinky Lehoko in an acting capacity in 2011. Robin Petersen came on board last year and has since been replaced by Dennis Mumble, bringing to five the number of CEOs during Nematandani’s tenure.

He has also presided over five Bafana coaches: Joel Santana, Carlos Parreira, Pitso Mosimane, Steve Komphela and Gordon Igesund.

“Factions are a cause of concern for football,” said Nematandani as a parting shot. “My advice to any new person is that unity is strength and you can’t achieve anything if you don’t have everybody on board.”

Nematandani’s turnaround strategy has managed to reduce Safa’s losses by about R10 million, to R46 million.

Failures

1. Bafana Bafana did not qualify for any major event, including the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2014 Fifa World Cup.

2. Bafana became the first host nation to be knocked out in the first round of a World Cup.

3. Junior teams failed to qualify for continental and global events.

4. Warring Safa factions were not united and their PSL relationship was not restored.

5. The Safa administration is still chaotic.

6. Main sponsors Absa and SAB cut their sponsorship by half while Vodacom pulled out completely.

Successes

1. Hosting a successful 2010 Fifa World Cup, which was rated by Fifa as the most successful ever.

2. Succesfully hosting the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations at short notice.

3. National women’s team Banyana Banyana qualified for the Olympic Games for the first time.

4. Banyana finished second at the CAF Women’s Championships.

5. The women’s Under-17 team qualified for the World Cup for the first time.

6. A total of R450?million went into the Safa World Cup Legacy Fund.

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