Afcon win will be a miracle – Radebe

2012-10-06 18:45

Former players agree that there’s too much pressure on Bafana.

Former Bafana Bafana captain Lucas “Rhoo” Radebe and his Class of 1996 have advised the team to forget about emulating them by winning next year’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).

The advice is that the current crop should rather use the tournament that will be hosted here in January as part of their build-up for the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil.

The highly decorated Radebe, who is still respected internationally, said that although the SA Football Association (Safa) had given coach Gordon Igesund a mandate of at least reaching the semifinals at Afcon, Bafana should not put themselves under unnecessary pressure by aiming to lift the trophy.

Radebe said it would be well and good if Bafana were to win the tournament, but he cautioned against raising expectations.

He did not mince his words, saying it would be a “miracle” if Bafana were to emulate the 1996 class and lift the trophy.

Instead, Radebe, who has 70 Bafana caps, said the team should focus on building for the future.

“We are still on a rebuilding process and we should not expect instant results. Already there are some positives and promising changes here and there, but we need to be patient,” said Radebe, who captained Bafana at the 1998 and 2002 World Cups in France and South Korea/Japan.

He said the nation must accept that Bafana have not been doing well recently after missing out on the previous two editions of the Afcon tournament, but they should not lose hope.

Radebe said next year’s continental tournament should be used as a yardstick for future tournaments and he was confident of their doing well in future.

Bafana started badly in their 2014 World Cup qualifier by drawing their opening two games against Ethiopia and Botswana.

They need to get their campaign back on track by winning their next game against the Central African Republic in March.

The former Leeds United captain has commended Igesund for being bold in his team selection so far.

“I believe in him and he should be given time to try different combinations. The team belongs to all South Africans, not certain individuals, and players should fight for places in the team on merit. We must use next year’s tournament as a learning curve. We have to acknowledge our previous mistakes and move forward.”

Former South African strikers Philemon Masinga, Shaun Bartlett and former captain Neil Tovey, said the 2013 semifinal mandate was “far-fetched and unreasonable” for the new coach.

“2014 is in two years’ time and it’s still unfair for the coach. He needs sufficient time to prepare the team. Let’s rather give him a 2018 mandate. We know Gordon is a good motivator and he will succeed,” said Masinga.

“We don’t have to put ourselves under pressure. We need to have a long-term plan and forget about cut-and-paste methods,” added Bartlett.
Tovey said: “They must go out there and do their best.”

Former Bafana midfielder Helman Mkhalele differed though, saying the team should aim high.

“As hosts, we should be thinking about winning the tournament. But at the same time, the semifinal is too ambitious. The team still has a mountain to climb,” said the former winger.

Another former Bafana player, Edward “Magents” Motale, said Safa was out of order to expect miracles from the team.

“Let the coach focus on building his team. Safa and the nation must rally behind Gordon and he must not be given an ultimatum,” said Motale.

All the former players also emphasised the importance of development, saying it needed to be taken more seriously.

Radebe hosted the annual FNB Lucas Radebe Football Festival at the University of Johannesburg Soweto Campus this week.

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