Bafana have become the team that others can experiment with

2009-09-11 00:00

“SIX in a row, the coach must go.” It is a mantra we should be chanting today after yet another majestic display of mediocrity from our national side, who have now lost more games consecutively than before.

Patently, Joel Santana is not working out. No progress is being made, certainly not on the evidence before us, and Bafana Bafana bumbles along to the frustration of the fans and bemusement of the rest of the world.

It is also beginning to boil over among the players. Steven Pienaar was the first to bravely question the negative tactics of Santana, whose own personal agenda supercedes the one for which he was hired.

Pienaar spoke after Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat in Ireland of the frustration of having to be playmaker to a single striker and hinted that the Brazilian coach’s approach to game grates against what the players believe they are capable of.

I have written before that Santana’s primary objective is self-preservation. He wants to try to keep down the defeats so he keeps his handsome salary and the possibility of calling himself a World Cup coach.

As a result, he is scared to play the attacking football that speaks to the skills of the players he picks. It started in the Confederations Cup with a cautious approach against Iraq and continues with each passing game.

South Africa’s national team has always played naturally attacking games, either with skilful playmakers or pacy wingers. The concept of a lone target man and the quick counter attack are alien to the way any host nation of any football tournament should approach the game.

This experiment has gone far enough and must be halted. The team is not showing any signs of improvement. They pass and run and pass and run and… plus six defeats in a row is unacceptable.

By this stage of the World Cup preparatory plan, South Africa’s national side were supposed to be a well drilled unit beginning to hold their own against top international teams. But the opposite is the case.

If truth be told, Serbia, Germany and Ireland all played against us with makeshift starting line-ups.

We are the team others can now experiment against because we don’t provide much a threat.

The Serbians beat us 3-1 at home without raising a sweat, the Germans handed out several debut caps and the Irish had half their team missing after a World Cup qualifying win over Cyprus last weekend.

Let’s not kid ourselves. World football is not taking South Africa seriously. In fact our team is sadly becoming the subject of mirth and derision.

Santana is not the answer. He has been given ample time to prove himself and he has failed. Resultantly, he must go.

• Mark Gleeson is a respected television commentator and editorial director of Mzanzi Football.

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