Pressing Issues: Pauw has to explain Banyana’s failure

2014-11-04 11:00

Rest in peace Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, Senzo Meyiwa and Phindile Mwelase.

Never in my more than 30 years of covering sports did I think I would start a column in this way.

But there is no better way to capture the tragic events of the past week.

As these three sports stars were laid to rest on Saturday, I will not delve into the subject of their deaths as anything I say might be a repeat of what has already been said ad nauseam.

All I will say is may their souls rest in peace and may their families find comfort and healing from the tragedy that befell them.

As the dust settles on the painful events of the week, I would like to advise our sports administrators not to take their eyes off the ball.

For instance, the SA Football Association (Safa) is faced with the mammoth task of preparing Bafana Bafana for the crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Sudan. It has been moved to Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium on November 15 in honour of Meyiwa.

But there is another pressing issue – the Banyana Banyana affair.

The acclaimed Vera Pauw must explain to Safa why our women’s national team fell short of their mandate to qualify for next year’s Fifa Women’s World Cup.

All Banyana had to do to qualify was to finish in the top three of this year’s CAF African Women’s Championship. This was no Mount Everest, given that before this year’s tournament, the only team our girls seemed to find difficult to beat were the Super Falcons of Nigeria.

They had beaten them in the last tournament under coach Joseph Mkhonza only to falter in the final against hosts Equatorial Guinea.

They have always finished in the top three only to fail against Cameroon, Ghana and Ivory Coast.

Then Pauw enters with her qualifications, glittering CV, bravado and gift of the gab.

Safa spared no costs in providing her with all the necessities prior to the tournament.

I doubt if there has been a previous Banyana coach who has been given so much support before a tournament.

I can bet my bottom dollar that Fran Hilton-Smith, August Makalakalane and Mkhonza are licking their lips wishing they had such support.

And rightfully so. Is this because Pauw is a foreign coach? I bet she gets paid more than the previous local coaches.

Did Safa get its money’s worth? Methinks not!

I can assure you this is going to again spark the debate on foreign vs local coaches.

It’s a pity that losing such an opportunity to play in the World Cup has put paid to a few players’ dreams of appearing at this global stage for women’s football.

Players like Portia Modise, who is on the wrong side of 30, might not get another opportunity to play at a World Cup.

Pauw has a lot of explaining to do and the nation waits with bated breath.

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