SportPesa ambassador, Doctor Khumalo gives his opinion on why South African football has struggled for so long and the reasons why we need to rediscover our football identity.
“This past weekend I was chilling with my friends and guys who are very much involved in South African football, when a very interesting topic came up for discussion. We were talking about how things are done overseas, compared to us here at home. It would seem like we are doing the opposite. For instance, when we talk of the 70s, South African football wouldn’t compare to anyone because of the unique style. The times of Chippa Moloi, Kaizer Motaung and many others can’t be compared to anyone because they were unique, without international influence. Now, we depend on what is happening around the world for us to identify ourselves. What made us unique is something of the past.
"We once had a team that played Rhodesia and it was filled with massive talent, Computer Lamola, Andries Maseko, Ace Ntsoelengoe, Joseph Banks Setlhodi and many others. Where I’m going with this is the fact that we haven’t done much in terms of understanding what made those people tick. We just seem to go with the flow. We don’t actually seem to understand what even makes us tick and play good football. It was a very interesting conversation that I feel needs to be had by more and more people. What are the chances of us going back to doing things the South African way? You have a national team like Germany that was a powerhouse until they changed their ways. They lost the plot and, when you look at them, they’re on their way back to what made them who they are. They’ve clearly learned their lesson and will become a force to be reckoned with again.
“16V” made a few examples of nations who have begun the process of rebuidling their identity.
“They are not the only ones. You look at Brazil. They underwent the same challenges and their national team took a nosedive. They went through a rebuilding phase where everyone could see the Brazilian identity that they know. Holland are going through a rebuilding phase. What all these countries have done was to go through their archives to see what made them the best, even at club level, and they just went back to doing what worked for them back then. This is nothing new, but you have to understand and accept that you’ve made a mistake by ditching your identity and then work towards restoring it. For as long as you fail to acknowledge that, chances of you getting it right are very slim. At club level, some teams are battling to get their groove back and that eventually affects the national team.”