Pressing Issues: Mark my words: Kukude engqinibeni

2013-03-24 10:00

As Bafana Bafana prepared for their crucial 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifier against the Central African Republic this week, I got thinking.

Yeah! I do think sometimes.

I know it can be hard work and people can hear the grey matter beginning to grind into action to make sense of certain circumstances.

Bafana coach Gordon Igesund is on the second leg of his mandate from his bosses at the South African Football Association (Safa) House in Nasrec, Joburg.

The first was at least to reach the semifinals of the Africa Cup of Nations that was hosted on these shores in January. We all know what happened to that.

Now, Igesund needs to take Bafana to the biggest shindig in Brazil, starting on June 12 next year.

To be honest, I don’t see that happening and even if they were to qualify, by some lucky event, I don’t see them making it past the first round.

This observation has nothing to do with patriotism – just reality.

As things stand, there are 10 qualifying groups in Africa and only the group winners will go ahead to fight for the five available slots.

Looking at the starting line-up of the two top-ranked nations in the world – Spain and Germany – and on our continent – Ivory Coast and Ghana – a chill ran down my spine.

Pound for pound, as they put it in that sport played out in a square that is strangely called a ring – our players are paperweight compared to the nations we are supposed to be competing with.

We are still in the same position, pointed out ad nauseam, which was put succinctly by the Scottish actor Sean Connery in the movie The Untouchables, when he asked: “What kind of a fool brings a knife to a gun fight?”

It’s sad. We haven’t even started focusing on the 2018 Fifa World Cup to be staged by Russia, by identifying Under-17 and U-20 players with the potential to represent this nation.

The suits at Safa are still spending all their energy to ensure they retain their cosy seats at the September elections.

Those who wear spectacles know the pitfalls of planning for non-existent long-term goals. Their fading lenses can only take them so far into the future before what was once clear becomes blurry.

Igesund should know better.

Unfortunately, as much as his team’s chances of qualifying for Brazil 2014 are trumpeted, there is this persistent feeling that they are just not good enough.

The players may revel in their air-bubble of South African adulation and enjoy being told they are the best.

But when the cold rays of reality are shone on them, they are nowhere near threatening.

As a wise IsiXhosa saying goes: Kukude engqinibeni (it’s mission impossible)?.?.?.?if you ask me.

Top teams’ starting line-ups

Spain: VictorValdes, CesarAzpilicueta, SergioRamos, CarlesPuyol, JordiAlba, SergioBusquets, JuanMata, SantiCarzola, AndresIniesta, PedroRodriguez, CescFabregas

Germany: Rene Adler, Phillip Lahm, Per Mertersacker, Mats Hummels, Benedikt Howedes, Sami Khedira, Ilkay Gundogan, Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski, Mario Gomez

Ivory Coast: Boubacar Barry, Emmanuel Eboue, Didier Zokora, Souleman Bamba, Siaka Tiene, Cheick Tiote, Romaric, Yaya Toure, Gervinho, Salomon Kalou, Didier Drogba

Ghana: Fatau Dauda, John Pantsil, Isaac Vorsah, John Boye, Harrison Afful, Emmanuel Agyemang Badu, Rabiu Mohammed, Kwadwo Asamoah, Christian Atsu, Mubarak Wakaso, Asamoah Gyan

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