What now for Bafana?

The big question following Bafana Bafana’s first round exit from the African Nations Championship (CHAN) is: What now?

The nation has suffered more than enough embarrassment through supporting Bafana Bafana.

This dates way back even before the unprecedented 2010 Soccer World Cup first round exit - becoming the first host nation to be bundled out before the knock-out stages - and last year’s failure at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) that we hosted.

This is the same team - well not the same players - that bombed out in the first round of the 2004 AFCON in Tunisia, failed to score a goal nor grab a single point in the Egypt version in 2006, failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, bowed out in the first round of the Ghana AFCON in 2008, failed to make AFCON 2010 in Angola as well as the 2012 version.

How much more can the nation take!?

As we speak, South African Football Association (SAFA) vice-president Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana is suspended. He still has to attend the hearing. The reason he was suspended, was that he dared to say that Gordon Igesund will be fired if he failed to at least make the CHAN final.

SAFA accused him of speaking out of tune. They said this was not a collective SAFA mandate.

Well and good, but we never got around to hearing or knowing what was his mandate going into this tournament.

And therein lies the rub!

One of the reasons our football is in such dire straits, is that for far too long, there has been very little accountability at SAFA.

People have been getting away with murder.

As a result, the organisation has found itself carrying a lot of deadwood and worse still, paying for it.

This has led to SAFA bleeding the kind of money they shouldn’t have and continuing to have people - or is it fat cats - who are less than productive being kept in employment.

There should be mandates and consequences when people fail to meet their targets.

Right now, Igesund must tell not only the South African public but must give a thorough report to his bosses on why and how he failed in a tournament that was hosted in this country and even after some administrators had managed to twist FIFA’s arm into accepting the tournament as a category A event and convince even reluctant PSL clubs to release players.

And the team captain must know that they can’t just be captain by name, there should be some responsibility.  This must filter down to all the players.

The loss to Nigeria does not only mean Bafana missed out on qualifying for the quarter-finals but that they also missed out on a golden opportunity to climb up a few places on the FIFA world rankings.

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula has called the players a bunch of losers and I guess there are many who will agree with him.

He accused them of not treating the nation and the national jersey with respect, I agree and think many will do too.

Somebody must account for this disastrous outcome and as the saying goes, heads must roll. Wherever there is failure, there is usually someone or some people who did not do their job properly. SAFA must probe who is this individual or people who has brought such embarrassment to the nation and deal with them.

This is unless if the changes that were promised in September when a new leadership was ushered in, were all false. Should the status quo prevail, it will mean we still have the same old, same old SAFA.

I was highly criticised last week for saying we needed calculators to work out all the permutations needed for Bafana that would lead to them qualifying for the next round.

Now I think those in charge of our football need to haul out Dictionaries and Thesauruses to look for new words because tired words and phrases such as “learning curve”, “development”, “building”, “back to the drawing board” that have been used ad naseum since our admission to international football in 1992, are no longer operative.

We have become very good at hosting events but our performance sucks, to say the least.

As somebody put it, maybe we should continue to host events but do not participate just watch from the sidelines as other nations enjoy the superb facilities we have.

That is unless something drastic is done.

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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