Have you heard the one about the South African striker in a brothel? No? He couldn’t score there, either.
Pardon my crude joke. I find a good dose of humour to be the best medicine for misery, and right now I am miserable after Bafana Bafana once again failed to qualify for the World Cup.
If I wasn’t an atheist, I would have shouted amen when Orlando Pirates’ coach Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic described the finishing in the country as the worst he has seen in a coaching career that has taken him all over the globe in just over two decades.
“I have been to 138 countries all over the world, believe me, I have never seen this amount of misses in my life,” a candid Sredojevic said after the Buccaneers’ goalless draw with Golden Arrows.
He then went on a charm offensive to say that he means no disrespect with his statement as he loves the country. But the message was already out.
Sredojevic’s harsh words are what our strikers need if they are to improve. There are a number of incidents in the past that prove Sredojevic is right. The recipient of the 2006/07 Lesley Manyathela Golden Boot should have made any striker worth their salt ashamed and doubled their efforts the following season.
Zambian forward Chris Katongo scored 15 goals in the first half of that season in the colours of Jomo Cosmos. He left in January to join Danish side Brondby before returning to the country to collect the award as no forward had surpassed him.
The following season, driven to make up for that embarrassing situation, the top goalscorer finished with 14 goals, one less than Katongo. It was another Zambian in James Chamanga.
The situation was more depressing in the 2013/14 season. Bernard Parker received the award after scoring a paltry 10 goals. Parker’s 10th goal came in February. He didn’t find the back of the net in the Absa Premiership for three months, having featured in nine games during that time.
Despite that dry spell, no one could surpass him. Zimbabwean forward Tendai Ndoro, who joined Mpumalanga Black Aces in January, almost caught up with Parker having played half a season.
Goal scoring in the country is at crisis level. A serious intervention is needed to solve this problem that affects every domestic team and is amplified at Bafana Bafana level.
Luckily for clubs, they can look beyond our borders for prolific strikers. Almost every team in the Premier Division relies on a foreign striker. Every top team, with a strong budget, is led by a foreign striker or was led by one in the last campaign.
The problem is more mental than talent. A lot of our strikers drop their heads after a miss and after one too many their performance drops, strangled by the fear of not wanting to make mistakes.
One of the things I like about Katlego Mashego is his attitude. The Chippa United striker is a lively character who always has a smile on his face. He doesn’t spend too much time worrying about misses which is why he is so composed under pressure knowing that he will make up for that miss.
He should be scoring more than he currently does with his talent, though.
This problem will not be solved by coaches at the Premiership because the players they get should be the finished product or close to being one.
It’s up to coaches in development structures to teach players this skill from an early age. If that doesn’t happen we are doomed to keep complaining about our misfiring strikers.
The mind-set also needs to change. I remember growing up, playing football in the road or any patch we could find - scoring wasn’t glamorous, being skilful was.
The problem was that goals tended to end the fun as it brought the matches to an end with goals and not time deciding the length of the matches.
Players who did nothing but score goals were called names like icutha, which means one who patiently waits for his prey before pouncing.
The act might be a good one in football, but ekasi it was viewed as anti-football. That’s why even now fans cheer loudly for a moment of brilliance and pay no attention to what follows, which in some cases includes the trickster losing the ball.
SuperSport United briefly tried having a striker’s coach by appointing Mark Williams.
But that experience was quickly short-lived before one could judge its impact. The situation is so dire that we have to try anything that can bring us the results because things are bad.