I have during the last couple of days, received quite a shellacking from many quarters with some of the critics calling me all sorts of names from being a traitor and unpatriotic to being a sell-out, all because of my comments during the weekly Soccer Africa show that was broadcast on SuperSport last Thursday.
Yet I am neither angry nor sad, but utterly disappointed. I listened attentively to the views of countless people because after-all this is a democratic country and everyone is entitled to their opinions. I think it also helps to listen to differing views to your own because sometimes it could help you grow and give you a better perspective of how the wind blows.
I’ve also had ample time to watch a repeat of the said show but it proved an exercise in futility as it opened up my festering wounds, left me emotionally drained, traumatized and deeply disappointed about the failure of Bafana Bafana to qualify for the enlarged 24-team biennial African Nations Cup tournament in a couple of months.
I love my country. And there are certain things that I would not compromise. My love for my country is one of those. I will therefore not apologize for expressing my disappointment about Bafana Bafana failing to qualify for the biennial tournament even if some people take it personal and fail to listen carefully to my lamentations.
And that is the tragedy about our beautiful country. We are expected the zip our mouths, fold our arms and look the other way or even though men are not supposed to cry, we are expected to lick our wounds in solitude and shed silent tears but definitely never open our mouths to express our disappointment, because that is considered highly sacrilegious.
But, I’ve invested a lot of emotions into Bafana Bafana and no amount of badgering or bullying will induce me to shut up. They say hips and even statistics don’t lie. In 2006 South Africa finished rock bottom after losing all three games conceding five without scoring even a single goal!
In 2008 they again finished last in their group, but at least with two points in their kitty. Then failed to qualify for the 2010 edition held in Angola and for the 2012 edition in Gabon. In 2013 they hosted but exited in the quarter-finals and 2015 qualified, but again finished bottom of their group with a single point!
Need I say more? Ok, I will indulge you further. In 2017 Bafana failed to qualify. And in 2019 were eliminated by Nigeria in the last eight. And they have once again failed to qualify for the 2021 edition scheduled for Cameroon next year. If these statistics don’t paint a grim picture, then you can call me a scarecrow or prophet of doom for that matter, I don’t care.
Yes, the South African U-17, U-20 and Olympic teams have qualified for global competitions and that is commendable. But the truth is that the success and failures of any country is measured by the performance of their senior team and realistically speaking, in the case of Bafana Bafana, the picture is not so rosy.
The question therefore remains, what did we learn from previous failures? Did we appoint technicians to make scientific studies and go through our multiple failures to ascertain where we went off the ramp and alerted us about our seemingly inherent deficiencies in order to avoid and rectify them in future?
The problem in our country is that when you speak your mind and express your deep hurt and honest views about matters that concern Bafana Bafana, you are labelled a traitor and no one attempts to listen to what you are critically trying to spew forth in your frustrated state of mind induced by Bafana Bafana.
I repeat that in the aftermath of Germany’s failure at the 2000 European Championship, all the stakeholders sat down, their ego battered and their pride deeply bruised and they sought answers to their failure and how to regain their position as a top football playing nation on the global scale.
The result is that they came up with a plan to revamp their ageing senior national team. They invested even more resources in youth development and to this end, built 52 Centres of Excellence across their country in a period of 12 years, built additional 366 Regional Coaching bases where 1300 professional, full-time coaches were employed to teach youngsters the basics of the game. And in 2014 Germany won the FIFA World Cup.
In 2002 they launched the “Extended Talent Promotion Programme” a joint venture between the German Football Association (DFB) as well as Bundesliga clubs who jointly budgeted €48 million (R1.64 billion) for the project aimed at scouting for exceptionally talented youngsters across the country.
The Germans completely revamped their domestic game and invested heavily in the youth. But while the German Association and the professional Bundesliga work harmoniously, the opposite is true with the South African game, little wonder Bafana keep flopping with regular monotony on the global scale.
The question I am to asking is, what have we learned from our multiple past failures and why have we consistently failed to correct those mistakes? Is it due to a lack of resources, finance, insufficient man-popwer, incapability, lack of government support, lack of quality in the players that we produce or lack of visions?
In the meantime, my beloved South Africa would be watching Africa’s premier competition from the comfort of their homes and would not be participating. I feel deeply sorry for the newly appointed CAF President Patrice Motsepe, who publicly announced that he cannot be head honcho of CAF with Bafana Bafana continuously failing to come to the party, but sadly they have thrown dust in his face!