A woeful week for South African soccer

Amajita coach Thabo Senong (Gallo Images)
Amajita coach Thabo Senong (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - It has been a week of extreme woes for South African soccer with setbacks emerging of an embarrassing nature at Bafana Bafana senior level, the national under-23 and under-20 sides and the women's team on their way to an initial World Cup in France as well.

Admittedly the Bafana side that crashed out of the modestly followed COSAFA Cup on penalties in their opening outing against a Botswana side ranked in the 140s by FIFA, to participate further for crumbs in the plate segment of the event, was effectively something in the nature of an experimental "B" combination.

But, as the old saying goes, you reap what you sow and if the South African Football Association (SAFA) saw fit to play in the tournament at all in view of its proximity to the forthcoming Africa Cup of Nations, it has to bear the brunt of the criticism doing the rounds - taking into account as well that FIFA will categorise the game against Botswana as a fully-fledged international and losing at home to a lowly-ranked side can only further damage Bafana's poor ranking in the 70s.

As for the under-20 South African team at the youth World Cup in Poland that was touted highly by SAFA as part of its starry-eyed "Vision 2022" programme, Amajita failed to win any of their three matches, losing to Argentina and a sprightly Korea Republic combination and drawing with Portugal to complete a first-round exit and increase the poor record at four such events to a single win from 13 games, four draws and eight defeats.

Meanwhile, the optimism surrounding SAFA's highly-touted women's team before their looming World Cup baptism was left in tatters following Banyana’s humbling 7-2 warm-up defeat against Norway, who are not one of the favourites in France.

All this provides a huge task of redemption for both Bafana in the looming Africa Cup of Nations and Banyana in the women s World Cup in order to restore the reputation of South African soccer.

As to the assertion made by Danny Jordaan recently that South African soccer is presently at its highest level internationally, it might be a good idea for the SAFA president to take note of the old Aesop Fable to "beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow."

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