Like the situation when a naughty child does not act in the expected manner and is then sent into the naughty corner, national team coach Gordon Igesund (otherwise known as GI) has sent Orlando Pirates midfield general, Andile Jali, into the Bafana Bafana wilderness.
The naughty child has been sent into a dark corner to think about his transgressions and his acts of disobedience. This has been quite a lengthy punishment. The child is not wailing for attention but the silence is deafening from both parent and child. Nobody seems to know how long this punishment will last. Some of the
Pirates fans neighbours seem to feel the punishment is too harsh and suspicions of abuse are abound. The bystanders (Swallows fans, like myself) are merely concerned with a positive end to the story and the growth and development of the child. It appears that SAFA the social services department has been alerted to the situation but feel the parent is handling the situation well. The other obedient children of the Bafana family have – like obedient kids should behave – not voiced their concerns, maybe for fear of similar punishment. Even the prodigal son, Benni McCarthy, has kept his mouth quiet, appearing to have learnt from a previous experience with his broer Moneeb Josephs.
To bring things back to the football field, one thing that cannot be denied is the fact that Andile Jali is one of the best players in the Premier Soccer League. He has been an instrumental part of the treble-winning Pirates sides (as my fellow Bucs tweeps keep reminding us all) and still, potentially, has plenty of years available to play for the national squad and maybe abroad. How
ever, his arrogance and, ahem, “inappropriate” behaviour off the field seems to have soured the relationship with the current Bafana Bafana head coach resulting in the player still being overlooked for the forthcoming World Cup qualifier against Central African Republic.
Jali has been consistently overlooked by Igesund for Bafana matches, which most of the public see as a form of punishment for quotes such as the following quote found in an interview in the Soccerladuma newspaper in October 2012:
“I care about my team where i get paid every month. I work for my team and i don't work for the national team”
In this particular interview, the words “I don't care” are repeated a number of times. The interview painted a picture of an arrogant, stubborn man and could have – and probably was – viewed as disrespectful by Igesund and his assistants. To the average soccer fan, the interview painted a picture of a player who he would be doing the national or the national coach a favour by playing for Bafana - like it was a privilege to have Andile Jali in your team (well, at least that's how I took it).
The only person in SA football who knows the truth is Andile Jali. He has been punished, and punished for quite a long time. But I believe it is now time that our father who art in Nasrec forgive Andile, the same way that he was willing to forgive (and have coffee) with Steven. It is time for Ntate Igesund to reach out his hand, show the young boy the way forward, whisper sweet nothings while singing the comforting words that he is “once, twice, three times” a player (just to keep up with the treble theme), and move forward together as a Bafana family. We will need all hands on deck if we are to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. South Africa is already at “itchy bum” stage regarding the state of our qualification campaign.
Winning, in the end, is what the average supporter cares about. He/she does not care about punishments. He/she does not care about egos. And he/she does not care about how many kids of wedlock a particular player has. He cares about winning or about “reclaiming the glory” (hello there, Khosis). The same applies for SAFA.
Based on my knowledge of South African football, when results are not forthcoming, the coach will end up going especially when it involves the exclusion of certain fan-favourites. Whether it takes a formal apology from Jali, some initiative from Igesund, or a special intervention from SAFA (fixing relationships not fixing anything else), at this point, personally, “I don't care'.
I care about the best local coach we have staying in job, using all the resources available and I care about seeing one of the best local talents progress and shine for Bafana. That is what's good for Bafana.
We, the fans, don't care about the drama behind the scenes. We don't care about Jali. We simply care about Bafana Bafana.
Do follow me on twitter @Tom_18Yards for soccer discussions
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