SA soccer's delusions and Bafana's challenge

Gavin Hunt (Gallo Images)
Gavin Hunt (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - It is with a degree of irony and disbelief viewing the recent exaggerated, distorted and deluded praise of South African soccer teams by SAFA president Danny Jordaan and Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt following in the wake of the failures in the men's World Under-20 and Women's World Cup tournaments.

"When South African soccer teams play well," espoused Jordaan, "very few teams in the world can match us."

Hunt's prognosis in a recent radio interview was quite as mind-boggling, although in the case of the outspoken Wits coach it was clearly due to his misinformation of the facts.

Hunt was at pains to point out how the historic first South African non-racially selected team had in the mid-1970s outplayed Argentina, who had then gone on to win the World Cup two years later.

The truth of the matter is that the Argentinian team that played at the Rand Stadium in the game in question consisted mainly of veterans who were long retired from active soccer, supplemented by a couple of reinforcements who were suspended by FIFA and banned from the mainstream of the game.

Remember at the time South African soccer was under expulsion by FIFA over the country's discriminatory apartheid doctrine and that meant that no officially registered Argentinian footballer among the hundreds of thousands would have jeopardised his status by coming to South Africa.

So much then for the make-believe assertion of a South Africa side having beaten a team that would go on to win the World Cup title!

Now with the women's and under-20 men's teams failing to win a single match for early elimination at their respective tournaments, in which five games were lost and one drawn by South African teams and four goals scored and 15 conceded, Bafana Bafana's flagship squad face a specially urgent task of restoring the image of the country's soccer at the coming African Nations Cup in Egypt.

Coach Stuart Baxter says he is under no illusions - or delusions? - as to the challenge facing Bafana, but he has a strong degree of confidence in the ability and dedication of the players under his charge.

As a minimum requirement, therefore, Bafana will require to at least improve on the fate of Banyana and Amajita and progress through the opening round to the last 16 from a tricky line-up of opponents made up of the Ivory Coast, Namibia and Morocco.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
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