Dumitru: SA soccer players are restricted

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Ted_Dumitru Ted Dumitru says it's time to allow our soccer stars to play with African flair.

Obsession with petty issues, lack of creativity, outdated conservative football, coaching restrictions and fear have left South African football languishing behind other nations.

This is the assessment of shrewd expert Ted Dumitru, who says real issues stalling the progress of this country’s football have been ignored.

“We concentrate too much on who should be selected or dropped. When things go wrong we blame the coach. We are just naive and we focus on none important issues,” said the former Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs coach.

“We should be asking ourselves questions that are serious. Are we creative enough? Do we have quality players? Do we play good football? In other countries the public and the media analyse the game technically and tactically. Here we always blame people.”

Dumitru, who returned from Netherlands and France this week, said the Dutch are busy debating the future of their football following their embarrassing first round exit from the 2012 Euro currently under way in Poland and Ukraine.

“They are worried that they lack creative players. They want to see their country have more creative players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. In fact I read somewhere where they say they want to see defenders that can attack,” said the Romanian-born coach.

The quadruple league title winning coach is lamenting the fact that South Africans and Africans have the answers to modern football locked within them. According to Dumitru, Africans ought to be at the top as they have all the attributes needed to be successful in football.

“Genetically Africans are gifted and blessed with massive skills and intelligence. On natural ability, Africans stand a better chance than others. The problem with African football is that we are stuck on old European ways of playing which the Europeans are doing away with. They want skilful players now. This is where our game is lacking. Our players are too restricted. Players are told: don’t dribble, you take too much time on the ball. It’s like a crime for a player to dribble four players,” said the former Zambian national team coach.

Lessons can be drawn from 2012 Euro and one of the most popular sports in the world – basketball.

“If look at the remaining teams at Euro, three of the four boast creative players. They have skilful players. Teams that did not have many skilful players got knocked out. Creativity, skill and intelligence are crucial ingredients for success in football today. Why is it that basketball is loved all over the world? It’s because of creativity, skill and improvisation that is involved,” said Dumitru under whose tutelage did the late Scara Ngobese dazzle football fans with his scintillating skills.

With Bafana Bafana and the whole country lamenting goal drought, Dumitru said more emphasis should be put on attack and development of skills, which is desperately needed world wide.

“We have to get rid of the wrongs in our football. Conservative football can’t work anymore. In South Africa, 70% of the players are attack minded. Even defenders should be allowed to initiate and support attacks. People may say it is risky but in football you have to take risks. You saw how Lucky Lekgwathi and Siyabonga Sangweni used to move forward and attack last season. At the School of Excellence we adopted that concept and OJ Mabizela is a product of such,” said the former Bafana caretaker coach.

Dumitru, who is a member of Safa’s technical committee, stressed that radical change has to take place if the country is to move forward. The former AmaZulu technical director said the overhaul has to start from juniors ranks.

“We need to put aside conservative football. It should start now. We are 10 years behind other nations. The change has to start with youth coaches and straight to the PSL. Implementation of programmes is a huge problem in this country and Africa. Until Africans stop and do away with old European way of football, we will still be miles behind. The whole world and Fifa want to see attractive football and Africans can be on the cutting edge,” said the man known as the master tactician.

Dumitru has noticed improvements in refereeing which he says can help revive the attacking and attractive flair that the world has been yearning for.

“Theses days when players get fouled referees don’t waste time to show a yellow card. This is good because it encourages players to be more creative. They will no longer be scared to take on defenders,” said Dumitru who guided Chiefs and Sundowns to league doubles. – Pretoria News


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