There’s a crisis of talent in SA football

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Bafana_CT_Nigeria Gallo Images Bafana Bafana are a long way away from being a top footballing nation, says the writer. File picture: Manus van Dyk

Johannesburg - There is no one quite like Fikile Mbalula to sprinkle a healthy dose of overreaction on top of all he surveys.

Bafana Bafana had crashed out of the African Nations Championship after a defeat to Nigeria, and the sports minister was all over the issue like white on rice.

Bafana were, according to Mbalula, a “disgrace” and a “bunch of losers”.

Way to kick a dead dog lying on the ground, its entrails all over the floor and it’s colour long since gone, Mr Mbalula.

“We indeed have a crisis of monumental proportions.

“We don’t have a crisis of talent, we have a crisis of putting everything together,” added Mbalula.

If his initial slagging-off of the Bafana team was unnecessary, this latter quote was just plain wrong.

We do have a “crisis of talent” in South African football and anyone who thinks otherwise has their head buried in South African soil right down to the earth’s core.

The only surprise, indeed, about South Africa’s defeat to the Super Eagles on Sunday was that anyone was surprised in the slightest.

Nigeria, just in case no one has noticed, are much better than South Africa at football.

Their full-strength side has qualified for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, breezing past Ethiopia, the side that dumped Bafana out of qualifying in the group stages.

So why do we react with such drama when a Nigerian team of locally based player beats a South African team of locally based players?

At some point, someone is going to have to rewrite a masterplan for South African football with the headline – “Lower your expectations, we are not very good”.

And there would be plenty of statistics to back up such allegations.

Bafana Bafana have not made it through World Cup qualifying since Carlos Queiroz got them to the 2002 World Cup finals in Japan and South Korea.

They have not qualified for an African Nations Cup since Carlos Alberto Parreira got them, by the skin of their teeth, to Ghana in 2008.

There has been a deterioration in Bafana Bafana’s results in the world game ever since they won the 1996 African Nations Cup, the falsest of dawns.

So stop telling me the ability is there, it is not.

If you want evidence of that, go and watch as much Absa Premiership football as I have, and see if you are anything but occasionally enthralled.

Only once we start to realise just how far we have fallen, can we begin the long climb back up.

The Star



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