Safa forgot to enter under-23 side for All-Africa Games qualifiers

2010-12-21 00:00

SAFA’s latest clanger does not bode well for the new administration, writes MARK GLEESON.

We were promised greater efficiency and a more productive South African Football Association when the leadership of the organisation changed last year.

But a massive clanger has seen the country fail to enter its under-23 side for the upcoming All-Africa Games qualifiers … because Safa forget to send their entry in.

It will be the first time a South African team does not participate in any of CAF’s competitions and given that the games are to be held in neighbouring Mozambique, a huge oversight on the part of the association.

Last week the Confederation of African Football released the fixtures for the qualifiers without South Africa’s name. Egypt also forgot to enter a side.

It set off frantic efforts by Safa who tried to persuade CAF to allow them in through the backdoor but African football’s controlling body will only allow them in if one of the other countries in the southern zone pulls out prematurely.

It is a scandal that countries like Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe have enough administrative expertise to be able to send a fax but Safa cannot.

Ultimately Safa president Kirsten Nematandani must carry the can but his glib-talking chief executive officer, Leslie Sedibe, has proven to be more eloquent than efficient.

The real losers are the next generation of under-23 players who will miss out on a chance for more proper competition. The country is, thankfully, entered in the Olympic qualifiers, and play Libya in March, but they could have used the All-Africa games preliminaries as great preparation.

Now they are being short changed, which means all the pronouncements about development from Safa bigwigs over the last year now carry a hollow tone.

Safa have had a succession of dopes running their offices for more than a decade. There have been many silly foibles that come not from inexperience and oversight but rank bad organisation and administration.

There was a comical incident when Mark Fish got called up for a World Cup qualifier when he was actually suspended because of an accumulation of bookings. This one would be just as funny as if it wasn’t so downright sad.

Safa executive committee members who collected a bonus for their work over the last year should now hand back a portion of that money as an acknowledged of their failure … And use it to set up a few games for the under-23 team who will now sit idle.

For an organisation who spends so much time talking about developing players for the future, this is an incident that shows up their true colours.

• Mark Gleeson is a former editor of Kickoff magazine, respected television commentator and Editorial Director of Mzanzi Football.

— News24

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