This past weekend, the national U20 team bowed out of the FIFA U20 World Cup in Poland after failing to win three of the matches that the young men participated in.
SportPesa Clubhouse column ambassador, Doctor Khumalo spoke out on the performance of the lads and went on to further point out the lack of international experience and how it impacted on the progress of Thabo Senong’s charges.
“Having played in Argentina, I know exactly what it takes to play in those teams. We are talking about very strong teams and if you have most of their U20 players coming from those teams, what can you really do wrong against players who only play in the MDC? Look, don’t get me wrong, MDC is a great initiative for our game, but it is not the same as the Absa Premiership and that’s an open secret.
“MDC is there to help the players get used to the elite league, whereas their Argentinian counterparts are already in the elite league. There’s a reason this is going on and I believe this is something that needs urgent attention. For me, yes, we have been talking about the learning curve and all that, but we have to come out of that situation. We can’t be on a learning curve forever. We need to start implementing some of our learnings in order for us to compete at international levels. If you want to compete internationally, you have no choice but to do what the international standards demand. There’s no competition if we operate differently and poorly compared to the rest of the world.
“Why do we want to compete internationally when we are not prepared to lift our standards to the international level? It doesn’t make sense. We just have to get our act together because, if we want to compete internationally, we need to abide by the international standards. The poor Amajita, for me, have won in terms of gaining that experience. In terms of learning, they’ve been learning for a long time and just need a platform where they can exercise their experience and challenge themselves in a competitive environment. I’m not saying MDC is not competitive, but the MDC league gives our young players a platform to keep fit and to get game-time. Is it as competitive as a normal league? If we say we want to compete against international teams in a few years’ time, say, Qatar 2022, we have to start preparing now. If you look at history, our junior national teams continue to qualify for these tournaments, but we are not improving their standard by equipping them with proper experience and challenging situations. That means we are going to continue experiencing the same experience of exiting in group stages.”
To read Khumalo’s message to the team, check out this week’s SportPesa Clubhouse column in Soccer Laduma, issue 1126.