Safa just doesn’t get it

2010-04-24 00:00

IT was on May 15, 2004, that the 2010 Soccer World Cup was awarded to South Africa — almost six years ago. In 50-odd days, the event finally arrives amid a sense of wondrous anticipation.

In all this time our sorry football association has not been able to organise a proper camp to stay in; nor, it transpires, to organise any decent warm-up matches.

Does this come as a shock?

Duh, no.

We have watched our football being run consistently badly by incompetents for more than a decade and seen the fortunes of our national side plummet as a result.

The South African Football Association has for years been a refuge for those unable to get a job in the competitive market among clubs. It is a highly toxic and ineffective hive of those with protectors in high places who were given jobs on the basis of long-standing friendships and deep connections. Millions of rands have been squandered on their salaries and perks while they wallow in idle chit-chat when they should be producing the footballers of tomorrow.

It is perhaps why Safa so successfully managed to botch up the training camp arrangements and how South Africa came to be the only side without a base camp or field when the list of where the 32 World Cup finalists would be staying and practising was finalised in February.

It is also no surprise that there have been no firings in the wake of this abject incompetence. Indeed, why have no heads rolled for the failure to find Bafana Bafana a place for the World Cup?

The other teams have been travelling to South Africa over the last two years, researching all the available options and then making their selection.

They proffered their deposits and have often come back since to ensure their requests for alterations, modifications and improvements have been heeded by their South African hosts.

Our Safa officials were all too happy to meet and show around all these top world coaches; Joachim Low, Raymond Domenech and Fabio Capello. Remember all the fuss when Diego Maradona came?

But while they were fawning like star-struck schoolboys, they forgot our own team.

Now comes the inevitable realisation that we won’t be getting any testing warm-up games in the last weeks before the World Cup as the coach had requested.

Carlos Alberto Parreira made it clear that if Bafana are to beat Mexico at Soccer City on June 11, and hopefully spark a decent World Cup campaign, the players need to have a foretaste of the intimidatory noise and pressure that the venue will offer up.

One or two major tests at Soccer City in late May was what he asked Safa to secure, making sure there is a big enough team invited here for a pre-World Cup friendly to ensure that 90 000 people will fill the stadium.

Let Bafana Bafana get used to the pressure so it is Mexico and not our lads who will feel the heat on June 11.

Surprise … Safa have failed. Instead we have Colombia and Denmark to polish up our players — not exactly opponents who will ensure we have a 90 000-strong crowd on hand for the warm-up.

That Safa is still bumbling around in search of fixtures while the world’s top teams have long organised their World Cup tune-up programme is further evidence that South Africa is served by people unfit for the task.

How the other World Cup teams must be secretly laughing at our officials. Sadly, this is no laughing matter. Mark Gleeson is a respected television commentator and Editorial Director of Mzanzi Football.

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