Johannesburg – A fired-up Fikile Mbalula on Wednesday told Safa to get its house in order in a public outburst which also saw him launch a staunch defence of under-fire Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund.
Mbalula, the Sports and Recreation Minister who was at the South Africa Sports Awards nominations launch on Wednesdaty, says Safa need to take responsibility instead of taking the pressure away from themselves by hiring and firing coaches. He’s urged the association to back Igesund, who has been told through the media that he has to win the CHAN tournament in January, and not use him as a scapegoat and hide behind the real problems that have beset South African football.
“Let’s have a vision of where we are going. And that’s what Safa must do. They must take charge. It’s nice as leadership when you are in the boardroom to chop and cut. The only thing you can tell the people of South Africa is that the coach is the problem and that I’m announcing a new one tomorrow. Then I will be out of trouble for a couple of months. That’s an easy solution. Gordon is building something. Let’s support him, even it means employing extra people to help, then let’s do that. This rush rush does not work. Let’s not do the quick fix solution. Gordon can’t be a scapegoat,” Mbalula said.
He continued: “We must have patience and let us have a structure. The subject in football today is not the coach. It’s whether or not we have got the basics right for the national team. We must check what it is we are doing wrong. Where was Brazil? They were dominated by Spain and now they are back on top. They are now dominating because they are well prepared. Ghana were here (for the Africa Cup of Nations) but they did not win. They did not go back and sack (Kwesi) Appiah. They sat with him and just yesterday (Tuesday), they beat Egypt, beyond demolishing. We must learn to mature as a country. We have got a coach with a track record. He must prove himself.”
Mbalula wants Safa, with newly-elected president Danny Jordaan, to present their plans for development to the government. “I have not met the entire executive, but I met Danny Jordaan and I have congratulated him for being elected president. We are still going to have a meeting. I have invited them to come to our MINMEC meeting to present to us their plans in terms of development of football in South Africa and how we can partner together. They have accepted the invitation. At my meeting, we will lay issues to bare and then produce the result in terms of what we want to do.”
Mbalula also said claiming to have one of the best leagues in African meant nothing, and that the public should not be fooled into thinking the country was the best.
“We must never come with an illusion that we are the best. We are not the best. We sometimes tell ourselves that we run the best league in the African continent. Where? The best league where? The best league we will see it soon in CHAN. We will see if we have the best league. We must come to the understanding that we must get the basics right and get football right.”
The minister revealed government would investigate the match-fixing scandal involving Bafana’s matches before the 2010 World Cup, which briefly led to the suspension of former Safa president Kirsten Nematandani. “We are still going to investigate. I know it has taken some time but we are actually attending to it. The ball is with us the government. It’s not with Fifa or Safa. It’s with us. Fifa and Safa have agreed that we must investigate and I’m happy to undertake this mission.”
Itumeleng Khune was announced as a nominee for the SA Sports Awards Sport Star of the Year, alongside Olympic and Commonwealth swimming champion Chad Le Clos. Hashim Amla, Lucas Sithole and Mapaseka Makhanya were also nominated for the big prize.