Do your homework Bafana

2006-03-02 13:34

Tumo Mokone

The only association between sport and the name Chad in recent weeks had been through American golfer Chad Campbell and his compatriot Chad Hedrick, one of the stars of the just ended Winter Olympics.

Until last week's draw for the 2008 African Cup of Nations' qualifying rounds pitted South Africa against Chad, not many South Africans had taken a keen interest in the north African country.

Information about Chadian soccer is hard to get by.

In fact, the only time Chad makes the news is when the country complains about the spill over of Darfur refugees from neighbouring Sudan, or when its president Idriss Deby accuses Sudan of harbouring rebel forces whose mission is to topple him.

The last mentioned source of friction between the two poverty stricken countries was eased earlier last month when Deby and his Sudanese counterpart, Omar el-Bashir, signed a peace agreement, pledging to deny refuge to each other's rebel groups.

This little background should provide the backdrop to the kind of conditions Bafana Bafana - who are not famous for collecting valuable information about their opposition - can expect when they travel to Ndjamena for their fixture in March 2007.

For starters the picturesque capital city is an inland port along the Chari river. Ndjamena is so close to Cameroon that only a bridge divides it from Cameroonian town of Kousseri.

Football-wise Chad are among the perennial underdogs of African soccer and have never qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Chad is ranked a lowly 160th

According to the latest Fifa rankings, Chad is ranked a lowly 160th, and 38th in Africa. But these facts should come as cold comfort for Bafana, who in recent years have struggled against all opposition in Africa.

The national team, nicknamed Sawo, draws its players mainly from top local clubs

Tourbillon and Renaissance, and its foreign legion play in Cameroonian clubs and French lower leagues. At least Chad has a coach, in Yann Djim, while Bafana remain coachless.

Using its new wealth from oil, the government has in recent years started to pour money into the national team and with a good coach money can buy at the helm, Bafana will be exposed again should they travel to Ndjamena unprepared.

SA Football Association (Safa) has their first chance to see Chad in competition this week as it plays in the regional Cemac Cup in the Equatorial Guinea. Sawo's first match will be on Sunday against Congo-Brazzaville.

Does Safa know about the Cemac Cup?

The beauty of the fixture is that it involves two teams who are in the qualifying group as Bafana for 2008 ACN. The fourth team in Group 11 are familiar foes Zambia.

In case Safa feel this information is reaching their ears too late to quickly dispatch someone to Bata, the Equatorial Guinea capital, they must not despair. Congo and Chad will be in action against the hosts on March 6 and 9 respectively.

Both Congo and Chad will not have their foreign stars for this tournament but at least their matches will shed some light on many aspects of their game.

The question however is: is Safa ready to dispense someone on a fact-finding mission?

Does Safa know about the Cemac Cup, and that Chad and Congo are involved? If the answer to these questions is "yes", then that will be encouraging sign that things could be changing for the better within the soccer federation.

  • Bafana Bafana open their 2008 ACN account at home to Congo-Brazzaville on September 3, 2006.

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