South African football is an enigma of it’s own design. Passionate supporters, kids grow up playing the game from the time they can stand, tons and tons of technically proficient players with the ball at their feet…. But yet, this has not translated to success on the international stage in a long, long time.
I put the reason down to a simple lack of identity. If you look at the top teams in the world, they are all renowned for their “way”. Brazil have the samba, England are fast and physical, Germany are famous for their precision and lightning fast counter-attacks and Spain have their “tiki-taka” style.
In South Africa, we have a variety of different influences all over the country. Most teams are coached by foreigners who prefer to employ the tactics they understand. Not that I’m necessarily saying that’s wrong but it does lead to some confusion. I believe South Africa needs to develop a playing philosophy and start implementing that philosophy from grassroots level and up. That will create unity within the national teams of every age group and cohesion between new and old players. But this now poses us with a question: What style of play will suit South African players?
Let’s take a look at the profile of the average South African footballer.
South Africans are usually quite skilful with the ball at their feet, we pick entertainment over substance most of the time and so our players always love to dribble and try to be inventive on the ball. South Africans are usually small but pacey players so playing with a big target man is not very likely and means that they could easily be bullied off the ball by bigger physical teams.
With that in mind we can put together a game plan suited to our players and I would envision it to be a possession based game. Short and quick passing from the defence through the midfield and to our forwards and pacey wingers tiring out defenders with their pace and trickery will make it tough for any team if executed correctly.
When the opposition have the ball I propose an aggressive pressing game to turn over the ball high up on the pitch for a quick counter-attack.
All those ingredients sound very similar to Spain and Barcelona’s “tiki-taka” style. Add in a bit of African flair and some inventiveness from our very own “Diski” style from playing street soccer and I believe we will have a very potent game plan. All South Africa needs then is a clinical finisher and some self – belief and we may become a force in world football again.
If you would like to add to this article, feel free to comment below. I do not profess to know it all, I’m just a big fan of the beautiful game.