SA clubs must stop being cry babies!

S’Busiso Mseleku (File)
S’Busiso Mseleku (File)

Congratulations to Platinum Stars and SuperSport United for making it through to the group stages of the CAF competitions.

Stars, making their first attempt at a continental junket, beat AS Tanda 2-0 in the return leg to level the tie on aggregate and went on to win 5-4 on penalties.

United had it a bit easier, winning 5-0 on aggregate against Barrack Young Controllers while Bidvest Wits were not so lucky as they bombed out of the CAF Champions League, leaving Mamelodi Sundowns as the sole South African campaigners in the lucrative continental premier club competition.

Wits’ exit could prove to be a blessing in disguise as they are still in the running - and are one of the favourites - for the Absa Premiership.

However, that’s not what I want to discuss as that’s a subject for another day.

South African clubs have made it a habit of complaining about the hazards of playing on the continent and the impact it has on their domestic schedules.

Given that travelling on the African continent is not a bed of roses and is not the easiest to arrange, they should still have found the hang of it by now.

I mean, South Africa was accepted back into the continental and global football family way back in 1992 which is more than two decades ago.

Among those complaining about the travel, you'll find a club whose owner has a private jet!

Playing on the continent should be regarded as an honour and South African clubs must give it their best shot.

Just look at the fruit of Orlando Pirates and Sundowns’ efforts, the only two clubs from Southern Africa with a continental star on their shirts. It is because of their commitment and achievements that South Africa now has a bigger number of clubs playing in CAF tournaments.

However, we are still confronted with complaints at every corner of how these tournaments (fixtures) add to the already congested domestic programme.

Clubs even complain that their players don’t get enough rest due to these continental matches.

I find this rich coming from clubs that play in a 16-team league as well as a country that boasts world class facilities.

Our players play far fewer matches than their European counterparts where most top leagues such as the English Premier League, the German Bundesliga, the Spanish La Liga, Serie A in Italy and the French Ligue 1 consists of 20 clubs each.

A case in point was the last fortnight's Champions League quarter-finals where the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, Leicester City and Monaco played continental matches last week, domestic league matches on the weekend and return leg matches in midweek.

Barcelona and Real, who faced Juventus and Bayern respectively, face each other in the biggest football derby - the El Clasico - on Sunday.

Their star players Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi who are constantly fighting for the “Best Player in the World” accolade also do not miss their national teams’ commitments.

But do we hear these two Spanish giants complain? No!

So this nonsense about players being burnt out must stop right now if we want our guys to compete against and be counted among the best in the world.

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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