Bafana Bafana fans showing their support for the national team. Photo: Supplied

Put those elementary Russian lessons on hold, people. Well, we won’t be needing them for the 2018 World Cup, anyway.

Perhaps save them to decipher the details of that pending nuclear deal, because our politicians have already ensured that our umbilical cord with the Beast in the East extends beyond just sport.

They say you get out what you Putin, but it is astonishing that for all the investment, occasional bribery and the well-wishes of the majority of the population, our football is still the shambles that it is.

Current coach Stuart Baxter reckons that our national team has gone nowhere since 2006, when he was last at the helm.

That’s quite galling, considering that he has been in our club game during that period, seemingly preparing players for international duty.

The buck gets too easily passed along in our football. Players cite coaches. In turn, coaches point to meddling administrators, who are as slippery as politicians.

In the cold light of yet another failed qualification campaign, it’s clear that Bafana Bafana reside in the same WhatsApp group as our ruling party when it comes to service delivery.

They tug at the population’s heartstrings because they know that every single one of us as citizens would just love for them to get their act together.

What have they actually delivered to us in the last decade? Ah, the 2010 World Cup.

But, as we have come to learn, even that showpiece was acquired with brown envelopes slipping under tables or landing mysteriously in presidential suite hotel rooms.

Over the counter, there is precious little to be proud of about our football. The biggest star in South African football is a goalkeeper, who also happens to have close to the highest completed pass rate in the side.

Our end product is that shambolic, and yet still the flicker of hope is lit for every crunch game. Maybe this time, we say. And, time and time again, that optimism is followed by a collective “Eish”.

Leadership, or lack thereof, has hamstrung our football in the new South Africa for arguably even longer than our politics.

We have been going in enough circles to adopt the Olympics’ logo as our own.

There is always an excuse; always some convenient reason why this time didn’t work out, but next time will be better. If we can’t calculate the number of points needed to actually qualify, we can’t work out which players are eligible.

Even when we do work out who can play, prima donnas like that brat called Thulani Serero turn up their nose, and demand a starting line-up slot or niks.

That sense of entitlement is bred by shambolic leadership. That a half-wit like Serero can demand preferential treatment is down to the value of the national jersey being reduced to peanuts by personal agendas at Safa House.

There is an African saying that roughly translates to the fact that children are a reflection of their parents.

Bafana’s squad – from the misfiring to the mismanaged, the delinquents to the entitled, from the strikers without a radar to the few who wear that badge with pride – that assortment of puzzlers are just a reflection of the suits that sit in lofty seats, getting ever portlier on their executive diet of single malt and humble pie.

In a country that exercises actual accountability, a clear-out would have happened a long time ago. The Sports Minister would have flexed his mandate powers and made sure heads roll.

Alas, we live in a country where a taxi driver probably knows more about the problems in our football than the man who occupies the highest office in Sport and Recreation.

Let that sink into your Russian vodka of Sunday contemplation...

Sunday Tribune

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