Bafana ‘the laughing stock of sports’

2011-11-08 12:35

South Africa’s national soccer team must stop being the laughing stock of sports, the acting chairman of Parliament’s sports committee said today.

“We must stop being the laughing stock of sports ... Look what has happened in Gabon,” Mgolodi Dikgacwi told SA Football Association (Safa) bosses. “Underpreparation. This is a problem. In other countries this is not a problem.”

The South African team recently failed to qualify for the Africa Nations Cup tournament to be held next year. Dikgacwi told the soccer bosses: “We need to sort that thing out. In rugby that does not happen. It is only in soccer that this is happening. So I don’t know what is what.”

The Safa delegation included president Mwelo Nonkonyana and chief executive Robin Petersen. Dikgacwi expressed concern over what he described as poor preparations by the under 23 and under 21 teams ahead of the 2014 Soccer World Cup in Brazil.

“We are not going to perform because the under 23 and 21s ... they are the next Bafana Bafana,” he said. “If they don’t get necessary exposure in time, we are going to be behind. If we want to do better in 2014 Brazil then preparations should start now.”

Cope MP Graham McKenzie said it was “totally unacceptable” that South Africa, which would host the Africa Nations Cup, had failed to qualify for the tournament.

“Not only from a point of view of disappointment, but also there are massive implications for our country.” McKenzie said players had to be released from the Premier Soccer League to participate in the national team.

“We can’t have a situation where some clubs release players and others don’t,” he said. Nonkonyana told the committee Safa had accepted joint responsibility for failing the nation.

“We didn’t qualify. We have proffered our apology to the nation. We took collective responsibility. We reiterate today that apology.”

Petersen said the key to having successful teams in future was to have a continuous pipeline of talented, well-developed players. “We have commitment, we have plan and we are implementing that plan,” he said.

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