Pressing Issue: From sour to sweet: It’s time for Safa and PSL to eat miracle fruit

2014-06-02 06:00

No one will ever succeed as Bafana Bafana coach as long as the relationship between the SA Football Association (Safa) and its affiliate, the Premier Soccer League (PSL), is not sorted out.

Officials in both structures can scream until they are blue in the face trying to tell us their relationship is sweet, but we all know it is far from.

A case in point is Bafana Bafana’s just-concluded tour down under.

The number of top players who declined Gordon Igesund’s call-up for the tour is unprecedented.

We can try and avoid spelling out the truth but it was so obvious it was just a way of showing the national coach and Safa the middle finger.

For the sake of South African football – for which Safa is the custodian – this needs to be ironed out once and for all.

Just as my mother would say, there is usually a vast difference between what people say and what they actually do. So, enough talking up the relationship, let’s see it in action.

I remember back when South Africa was accepted into the international fold in 1992. No club would withhold their players from the national team.

This willingness from the clubs, along with players’ hunger to represent their country, contributed immensely to Clive Barker’s success in winning the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations.

With that victory came the rewards of having a raft of players going overseas to gain invaluable experience.

Today (perhaps this is an unexpected by-product of a successful generation), the world has opened up so much for South African footballers that they actually no longer need to start off

by showcasing their talents at the national team level to be spotted by European scouts.

Proof of this lies in the number of South African professionals playing overseas who have never kicked a ball in the PSL. It would be sad if this realisation has made professional clubs view the national team with less respect than it deserves.

If the Safa-PSL relationship was not as sour as it is, maybe and maybe we wouldn’t be in our current situation, where Safa and Igesund seem to be singing from a different hymn book.

It’s actually quite laughable that Igesund seems to believe he has succeeded while a careful listento those in the higher echelons of Safa conveys a different story.

Chances are the decision not to extend Igesund’s contract when it expires was endorsed by Safa’s national executive committee at its “crucial” sitting yesterday.

But just on Thursday, ahead of the friendly against New Zealand in Auckland, Igesund was talking about things being “plain sailing going forward to the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers”, which begin in September.

Earlier in the week, Safa president Danny Jordaan said: “The coach or whoever comes in will have to hit the ground running.”

If Safa and Igesund were part of a choir, one would say they were singing in discord.

Going forward, Safa needs to do the following:

»Sort out their relationship with the PSL. This must be a two-way process. The PSL leadership must also be willing partners;

» Brief the coach clearly. The coach must have a full understanding of what is expected of him;

»Facilitate the seamless transition of players from junior to senior level;

»Intensify the coaches’ training programme;

»Develop a proper coordination process between junior and senior national teams’ coaches; and

»Set clear short- and long-term goals, which should be monitored closely.

Safa does have elements of some of these points in their programmes but they need to be implemented vigorously. That would set our football on the right path to taking up its place among the giants in world football.

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