Goal drought a frustration for soccer fans

Sport24 columnist S'Busiso Mseleku (File)
Sport24 columnist S'Busiso Mseleku (File)

Three words dominate articles on South African football these days: strikers, goals and draws.

It would be good if they were dominating the daily conversations in a positive way as the three are actually the cornerstones of the game of the pigskin, however they are all used in all manner of negativity.

South African football is suffering a serious goal drought as strikers fire blanks left right and centre.

Worse, still, many Premier Soccer League (PSL) games are ending in draws with the most common being goalless and 1-all stalemates.

Coaches are left pulling their hair in frustration and it is worse for supporters who swear by their clubs’ colours and emblems but are made to woe going to watch football matches.

The thing about supporters is they are the lifeblood of any sport. For God’s sake, they are the paying customers.

Imagine those supporters who travel long distances such as from Durban to Johannesburg and others from outside the country travelling from Namibia, Swaziland, Mozambique and Lesotho only to witness a Soweto derby that is notoriously ending in goalless draws.

While the debate has been going on for quite some time now about South Africa’s problem in scoring goals - which are what attracts spectators to the game of football - I must say I have seen very little by way of solutions.

Except for a story ran in City Press about a fortnight ago where many former top strikers extended an olive branch saying they could come in and help if asked, there has been little by way of solutions to this scourge.

They moaned that they were being sidelined and some of the currently active professional coaches, viewed them as a threat.

I once suggested some years ago that maybe South Africa needed an Academy for Strikers. And it would seem no one has taken a nibble at that suggestion.

With former prolific goal poachers such as Cape Town City mentor Benni McCathy and University of Pretoria head coach Shaun Bartlet being active, one would have thought that maybe they would be able to guide at least some of the players in their squads into top and deadly marksmen.

However, I would also be the first to say that's maybe not fair because they operate in the top echelons, elite if you may, of South African football and development is not part of their KPAs.

That role should be taking place down at grassroots level and by the time players reach the National First Division or Absa Premiership levels, they are complete products.

Which tales us to the old and now tired debate that there must be something wrong with our development and the way we mould our young players.

It is this reason that gives elite coaches such as Bafana Bafana mentor Stuart Baxter and the top league’s coaches the excuse to stand arms akimbo and say: “It’s not my problem but a South African football problem.”

And they are right.

So, who will solve South Africa’s goal-scoring problems?

Unfortunately, the finger will always point at the South African Football Association (SAFA) who are the custodians of the local game.

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 over 30 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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