Irony of two coaches

2014-06-19 00:00

A LINE from one of South Africa’s renowned playwrights, Duma ka Ndlovu, goes: “life does have these little ironies”.

So it was that I saw it as ironic that the two coaches touted as frontrunners for the tough Bafana Bafana job produced the first goalless draw at the 2014 Soccer World Cup in Brazil.

Some have already blamed it on the poor Number 13, associated with bad luck, as Nigeria v Iran was the 13th match of the tournament.

Where is the irony there? You may ask. The answer is: It is a very well-recorded fact that Bafana Bafana’s major Achilles heel is their failure to find the back of the net. So whoever comes in as the new mentor — whether it’s Stephen Keshi, who leads Nigeria at the World Cup, or Carlos Queiroz, who is in charge of Iran, — would be expected to solve this problem. It could still be somebody else as our football is very unpredictable, but they will still be faced with the same problem: The failure to convert chances that are created.

Prior to the Nigeria/Iran match, we had seen a glut of goals with the Netherlands demolishing world and European champions Spain 5-1; and then just before this stalemate, the Nationalmannschaft (national team) of Germany were as sleek and precise as ever, humiliating Christiano the Ronaldo-led Portugal 4-0.

The latter match was expected to provide fireworks as it pitted world No 2 in Germany against No 4, Portugal.

The tournament is proving once more that if you don’t take your chances, you expose yourself to being dead and buried, in football parlance that is.

Watching the World Cup, one has to observe that the standard being displayed at the tournament is quite high and one wonders how Bafana would have fared even if they had qualified.

An honest view would be that they would have found themselves in at sea.

Not only has the tournament been a high-scoring one — something that is foreign to Bafana Bafana — but the quality of play, both technically and tactically, has been very high.

The tournament is awash with young players such as Neymar, Lionel Messi and Marco Reus of Germany, who have amassed an impressive number of caps while still at an age regarded as “young” in South African football.

The 32 nations participating at the World Cup are proving that they are worth their salt and there have — as it has come to be expected at this tournament — been a few shocks.

While winning your first match is never a guarantee that you will cruise to the next round, countries such as hosts Brazil, Italy, Argentina, Holland and the USA have made their intentions known and given themselves an advantage to go through.

One just hopes that South Africans who are in charge of our football are taking notes and formulating a plan to move the local game forward, be they in Brazil or sitting at home and watching on television.

There are many lessons to be learned from the ongoing tournament.

As mentioned earlier one of them is to score goals. This is such a rare commodity in our Premier Soccer League that our top goal-scorer from the last season only found the back of the net 10 times.

Sharpening our players’ goal-scoring skills should be a priority in our football, or else we will always be spectators come such big tournaments.

Lest we forget, South Africa bowed out of the first round of the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan due to a poor goal difference.

It was the same in 2010 again at the tournament hosted in these shores and the country fell short of a few goals to proceed thus making the embarrassing history of being the first host country to bow out in the first round of the World Cup since 1936.

We cannot afford to keep on piling such statistics. — Sport24.

S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of

Africa’s leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is currently City Press sports editor.

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