Too many faults in SA soccer

Bafana celebrate (Gallo Images)
Bafana celebrate (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Former Bafana Bafana and current Iran coach Carlos Queiroz once likened South African soccer to a broken gramophone record - the needle is stuck and the faults simply keep repeating themselves.

The trend has continued and been reflected in 2015 after what has been a gruelling year of mixed fortunes for South African soccer with flagship Bafana Bafana ending in a precarious position in the qualifying segment for the 2017 African Nations Cup and uneasily placed in the qualifying run-in for the 2018 World Cup.

Queiroz helped Portugal to two Under-20 World Cup titles and was described by renowned former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson as "the best man I ever brought to the club - and that includes the players."

Conservative and circumspect, his assertions should not be dismissed or taken lightly.

One of the most disconcerting flaws is the tendency towards exaggeration when some success is achieved, which was epitomised recently when SAFA president Danny Jordaan proclaimed after the Under-23 Amaglug-glug team had qualified by a whisker for next year's Olympic Games that it has been "an extraordinary year for all our national teams, starting from Bafana, the under-23s, Banyana Banyana, the Under-20s (Amajita), the Under-17s and the Under-20 women.

To whit, added the SAFA president: "Everyone can now see what we mean by Vision 2022 when it comes to preparing winning teams both on the continent and globally."

The truth of the matter is that no South African soccer team won anything of major significance in 2015 either on the continent or globally if you accept that qualifying for an event like the Olympic Games - which has also been achieved by Banyana Banyana - while admirable and worthy of praise, is only the first step on the ladder.

To bring home the point, this is emphasised by the fact that while South Africa's Under-17 team qualified for their age-group World Cup they did not win a game in Chile and were eliminated in the first round.

The Under-20 Amajita did not make it at all for the tournament in New Zealand and the much-vaunted Banyana failed to make it to the women's World Cup.

Bafana's uneasy situation regarding qualification for the World Cup - the most important of all the international events and the one from which South African soccer ultimately is evaluated to a large extent - is due to a mediocre world ranking of 72nd which means that when the final qualifying groups to decide the five places allocated to Africa in Russia are settled on a seeding system, South Africa could end up in an excruciatingly tough segment.

The Olympic Games qualification of the men's Under-23 team and Banyana and reaching the World Under-17 final for the first time since 2009 may rightly be construed as a measure of encouragement and progress.

But any excessive euphoria emanating from SAFA is unrealistic and misleading and designed to damage the quest to lift South African soccer to a respected level internationally rather than enhancing it.

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