Striker Tokelo Rantie reacts after the final whistle in Bafana's 2-1 defeat to Cape Verde in Durban during September, during South Africa's failed World Cup qualification campaign. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu /BackpagePix
Striker Tokelo Rantie reacts after the final whistle in Bafana's 2-1 defeat to Cape Verde in Durban during September, during South Africa's failed World Cup qualification campaign. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu /BackpagePix
Safa CEO Dennis Mumble speaks at a press conference. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix
Safa CEO Dennis Mumble speaks at a press conference. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix
Dr Danny Jordaan, SAFA President, speaks at a press conference. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu /BackpagePix
Dr Danny Jordaan, SAFA President, speaks at a press conference. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu /BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG - The head honchos at Safa have spent the past week trying to convince us that it’s okay to pursue a long-term vision that almost has no small victories along the way.

Sure, the junior national teams and the women’s side have recently qualified for and won some major tournaments. But we all know that in order to completely paint a picture of success, Bafana Bafana - the flagship of the organisation if you like - have to consistently be the main attraction.

By now we know that coach Stuart Baxter’s flip-floppers will not be part of the five African countries representing the continent at the World Cup in Russia next year. The attempt to get that ticket to Moscow was just simply a nightmare, and everyone in South Africa has, for the most part, seen it as such. But the Safa suits are the exception.

I followed with keen interest remarks attributed to chief executive Dennis Mumble in particular on what the association’s response was to this recent failure and, of course, comments made by Baxter that he did not have a “written mandate” to take Bafana to the global showpiece next year.

Usually the slick smooth talker out of all his colleagues at the Nasrec headquarters, Mumble talked a good game. But some of what he had to say went on to show just how in denial Safa are about how outsiders will measure the accomplishments of the current regime.

With elections for a new administration set for next year, there is no way whoever decides to take on Danny Jordaan for the presidency will not use this World Cup qualification catastrophe - and the hiring of Baxter - as leverage.

This could be overreaching on my part, but I can almost guarantee you that any football fan would rather choose to see Bafana make it to the World Cup than having a junior national team participate at any of the youth tournaments. We want it all, if we can get it. But Safa is hardest hit when the senior men’s side is fumbling. That’s just a fact.

However, our football custodians haven’t really given us a signal that those who were tasked with aiding Bafana in booking their flight to Russia will be held accountable. Baxter told us nobody informed him that qualifying for the World Cup was non-negotiable when he took the job. Maybe this is true.

Perhaps there is no paper trail to support any argument that he was not mandated to take Bafana to Russia, but that shouldn’t be the first thing you blurt out minutes after the final whistle in a match where our World Cup hopes have gone up in smoke.

And then to rub salt into the wound, Safa sent out a statement while the rest of the country was still reeling by declaring that the vision was “on track”.

How about an apology? We are all still pretty upset. But they don’t get it. All they want is to still wear their silky suits and hold on to their plush offices for another term by selling us this Vision 2022 concept that seems to have no margin to allow Bafana any temporary success. 

They have decided to sweep this disaster under the rug. Even a television reality show doesn’t pull this much wool over our eyes.

The Star

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