The Debate Rages On…
07 November 2012
As you read this, Gordon Igesund could be sitting with Steven Pienaar somewhere in Everton, chatting over a cup of coffee about ‘Schillo’s’ international future. Reaction is often emotional when an active ‘big name’ player calls time ‘early’ on his country. Questions about lack of patriotism and loyalty get raised, but what it often really comes down to are more practical issues.
Everton didn’t want to lose their highly influential midfielder for six weeks in January. It’s possibly as simple as that. The question is, will Bafana Bafana miss Pienaar if Igesund can’t convince him to return? Do we really need him? It will be a topic of discussion across the country as we head towards the Nelson Mandela Challenge match, and it’s been the same in our Soccer-Laduma offices.
Soccer-Laduma journalist Khaya Ndubane takes the position that Pienaar is top quality but we have plenty of cover to replace him. “For me, no, Pienaar has never really been different from the other Bafana players. He has always played well for his club team, be it Ajax Amsterdam or Everton. He’s never really shone (for Bafana)! When Everton play Manchester United, you are guaranteed to see the best of Pienaar. When Bafana are playing say Zambia or USA, maybe ‘Yeye’ (Reneilwe Letsholonyane) will outshine Pienaar, yet he’s the guy playing in England.”
The Siya crew’s Masebe Qina also offered his view, “I don’t think we need Pienaar. He has done his part even though he really didn’t do a whole lot for the national team. I think he made the right choice to quit. I’m not sure it’s a good thing to call him back.”
Soccer-Laduma’s foreign correspondent, Joe Crann, believes Pienaar has value to offer, “I do believe he’s technically better than 99% of the players we’ve got. However, I do think it’s time (for him to retire) even though I think he’d have been beneficial to have in the side. In terms of his leadership and motivational abilities, I think we could’ve done with his experience. I think him not being there won’t make that much of a difference. It was a good time for him to retire. We’ve got ample replacements.”
Our editor Clint Roper takes a much more analytical view, “I think it’s a better team with Pienaar in it. People question him because he’s not a goal scorer, that was never his job. His job was to make us play. My opinion is that any SA team with Pienaar in it has to be a better side! Show me anyone else who has really done anything in Pienaar’s position. Xavi and Iniesta aren’t prolific goal scorers for Spain, does that make them failures? I mean, to have plenty of assists, you need a goal scorer as well. Is Ryan Giggs a bad player because he never did anything for Wales? He can’t be. Look at him for Manchester United! George Best (considered one of the greatest footballers of all time) didn’t do much for Northern Ireland, does that make him a bad player? Of course not!”
What’s my view? I think I’d rather have Pienaar there. Perhaps the 2013 Afcon could be one last chance for him to leave on the right terms – in a blaze of glory on home soil! What do you think?