SAFA Needs To Look In The Mirror
At what stage do you go, “You know what, maybe the problem is not you, it’s me?” When will SAFA have the eureka moment where they look in the mirror and see the ugliness that is South African soccer staring right back at them, and accept that popping the pimple every couple of years does not solve the problem, and that actually an entire facelift is what is needed?
At what stage do you go, “Hold on a second, we have now had over 20 coaching changes. Some of the men we have brought in have coached the biggest club teams in the world. Some have won the World Cup. Some are multiple league winning coaches right here in South Africa, yet time and again they seem to be unable to deliver on the mandates we set. Hmm... I wonder what could be wrong? Never mind, let’s continue hiring and firing and eventually we will get it right, no doubt.”
Was it right to get rid of Gordon Igesund? On the face of it, we are not at the World Cup, we did not qualify for the semi-finals of the Afcon and we did not advance very far in the Chan tournament. However, a closer look at the results Igesund achieved in games that actually mattered suggests that possibly those at SAFA, need to get their collective heads checked.
In the games that counted, Igesund’s record is there for all to see. He played in four World Cup qualifiers, won three of them and lost one. In the Afcon, he won his group and went out on penalties as he tried to accomplish mission impossible as laid out by SAFA, which was to get to the semi-finals. Combine World Cup and Afcon games and his record is played eight, won four, drew three and lost one. That hardly seems poor to me. What’s more is that Bafana finally seemed to have an identity, a way of playing that South Africans recognised and agreed with. And most importantly a team that could not hit the back of the net before he arrived were finding the net a lot more often. And yet, still Igesund goes…
In my humble opinion, you could bring Alex Ferguson himself to coach and manage Bafana Bafana, and it would make very little difference to the success of the team. The problem did not start with the senior team. The senior team is the top of the pyramid. The senior team and the coach are the little bit of the iceberg that we get to see - the visible part of our disaster. The bigger problem is what lies below the surface. It’s what we can’t see… what SAFA would hope we don’t see. If the South African football team is the Titanic, then SAFA is the iceberg.
Why do sponsors go running? Why do top players in their prime retire from international football? Why do current players turn down their call-ups? Surely it can’t all be because of the coaches that have led Bafana. To think that by removing one man from his job will fix our national team is like killing one mosquito and hoping to cure malaria.
Nonetheless, let’s see how much money they throw at the problem and how big a plaster they can pull out of the bag to try and stem the haemorrhaging. Big names, no names, foreigners and locals… we have had them all. I personally cannot wait to see who steps up next for the magical carpet ride that is coaching Bafana Bafana.
Before signing off, I would like to say on behalf of the entire Soccer Laduma family how incredibly sad we are to say goodbye to Isaac ‘Shakes’ Kungwane, who passed away at the age of 43. Shakes was an unbelievable player who understood that excellence and entertainment can go hand in hand on a soccer pitch. He understood that the South African soccer fan deserves the glory of winning, but were also well within their rights to demand the exhilaration that comes with watching an exciting brand of football. Be it on the soccer field, or sitting in a TV studio, he was the one that brought a smile to the faces of soccer lovers. He didn’t play the same tune, or stick to the chorus - he was the reason the song was always better. He was the peoples’ player and a people person. He was even part of the Soccer Laduma family as a columnist at one point and so it is with a heavy heart that we bid him farewell. No doubt he will join our other entertainers up there, and between him, the late Gift Leremi, Scara Ngobese and Ace Ntsoelengoe, there is no doubt that Tommy Madigage has a hard time picking his playmaker.