Pressing Issues: The richest is not always the best

2014-01-24 10:00

The Premier Soccer League (PSL) is the best league in Africa, so we’ve been told.

This is the hype that has been shoved down our throats by those who swear by the PSL.

But try telling this to soccer fans from Nigeria, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Ghana. They are likely to laugh in your face.

For starters, their countries are off to the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil later this year. They would also point out their clubs’ performances at continental tournaments.

Even TV images from their domestic league matches show packed stadiums, which is a rare sight in South Africa – except for when the Soweto derby featuring Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates comes around.

And now there is the African Nations Championship, currently being played in this country.

For the record, this tournament is contested by domestically based players only, meaning coaches can’t select their foreign-based lot.

If the display by Bafana Bafana in Group A – where they are pitted against Mozambique, Mali and Nigeria – is anything to go by, saying the PSL is the best league on the continent will take a lot of convincing.

They have been flat in their two opening matches against the Mambas and the Eagles of Mali, ahead of their do or die (did I use that term again?) encounter against the Super Eagles of Nigeria today.

And as has always been the case when Bafana Bafana participate in big tournaments, their fate is not entirely in their hands.

The only way they will cement a place in the quarterfinals is by beating Nigeria.

But we all know that is a tough ask.

They knew they had to beat Mali but failed to do so, despite a little help from the Cameroonian referee.

Maybe we should just stick to saying the PSL is the richest league in Africa, thanks to sponsors who poured in millions ahead of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

Did we build from there? No.

In fact, since then, the growth in sponsorships has been minimal, if not insignificant.

I guess we need to learn to separate being the best from being the richest.

While it has been proven time and again that money can’t buy everything, soccer has been a great leveller, proving that money does not always equal success.

To be sustainable, we need to go back to the roots and build our football from the foundation up to the roof.

Any house with a solid roof but no firm foundation is bound to collapse.

Bafana Bafana, especially in this tournament, are a reflection of our domestic league.

So the fallacy of the PSL being the best league in Africa has been blown to smithereens, if you get my drift.

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