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Hugo Broos is right: Where are those schools of excellence we were promised post the 2010 World Cup?

Hugo Broos has been very outspoken on various issues since becoming Bafana Bafana coach. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Hugo Broos has been very outspoken on various issues since becoming Bafana Bafana coach. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Published Jun 15, 2022


Durban - I could write a 3 000 word long essay about why this man, Hugo Broos, is right about the standard of our football.

However, I'll leave that for some other day.

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While I do have some objections to some of the Belgian mentor's views, particularly his stance regarding his non-selection of Mamelodi Sundowns duo Andile Jali and Themba Zwane - two hugely experienced internationals that could be useful within the national team set up, even if not as regular starters but because they've been around the block and know a thing or two about the international game.

But, this is not about my objections to Broos rather why I understand his brutal assessment of the perennially waning standard of our beloved national sport.

When Bafana Bafana squared off against Morocco's Atlas Lions in their opening 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Rabat, last Thursday, I'm not ashamed to admit that instead of my eyes being glued on the television set spurring the boys on I was enjoying a night out with my friends.

The 2-1 defeat, despite Bafana having led through a well taken Lyle Forster goal early in the first half, proved right my decision not to waste an entire hour and a half of my time biting my nails, hoping against hope that Bafana would leave the Stade Prince Moulay Abdallah with at least a point to kickstart their pursuit for a spot at the 34th edition of the AFCON tournament in the Ivory Coast next June and July.

ALSO READ: Kermit Erasmus defends players, PSL after Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos criticises league standards

Ever since his appointment as head coach of South Africa's senior men's national football team, the unfiltered Belgian has not been afraid to share his thoughts on the standard of the domestic game and again on Tuesday the lackadaisical Premier Soccer League was in his crosshairs.

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In his latest salvo he was in his best brutal honesty form as he also lamented our inability to export talent to the world's best football championships.

"Now is the time to face the real problem and the real problem of SA is that we don’t have high quality players.

"Let’s face it, the problem of SA is that the level of the PSL is not high enough,” the no holds barred 70-year-old Belgian journeyman said.

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The brutality of the honesty is difficult for most South Africans to take on board, as they prefer a more reserved way of delivering concerns on shortcomings.

Judging by the reaction on social media to Broos's comments, clearly most of my football loving compatriots are uncomfortable with being told the truth.

ALSO READ: ‘The standard of the PSL is poor,’ says Hugo Broos in scathing attack on SA football

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For now, though, before you get emotional about being told home truths that you very well know are home truths,do yourself a favour and read up on how serious football nations respond to failure.

Before getting all worked up about being told we're rubbish, just read up on how nations who care about their football emerge stronger after failure instead of going on never-ending rebuilding projects.

Read up on how Broos's native Belgium revamped its youth football following a disastrous UEFA Euro 2000 campaign, a tournament they co-hosted with The Netherlands, and how the Germans also went on a similar restructuring of their youth football systems following failure in that same tournament.

Today both nations have flourishing youth systems that are a consistent conveyor belt of talent for Belgian and German clubs, but most importantly for the national teams from youth level right through to the senior national team.

ALSO READ: When will the PSL, clubs help Hugo Broos and Bafana Bafana?

Just the other day, watching Germany against England in their 1-1 UEFA Nations League draw in Munich, I was enthused about how these two nations were so fortunate to have players born as recently as 2003 now strutting their stuff on the global stage, donning their first team colours at senior national level.

In that match Germany had 19-year-old Jamal Musiala making his 14th appearance while England's 18-year old-midfield sensation Jude Bellingham came on early in the first half to earn his 14th cap for the Three Lions.

By the time these kids reach 31-years of age they'll probably have 150 plus caps, while we'll probably still be handing out caps to 27-year-olds who have never even played for our youth national teams.

In the year 2000 we had Carlos Queiroz come in and in his first match in charge in October 2000 he faced defending World Champions France, who had been crowned European Champions a few months earlier in July, beating Italy 2-1 with a David Trezeguet Golden Goal at Feyernoord's De Kuip Stadium.

When he came in he also lamented the state of our football, but said if we implemented proper youth football structures, including having well trained coaches to develop our youngsters, we'd reap the rewards within a decade.

He provided SAFA with a blueprint, a dossier, on how to go about revamping the country's youth football in order to achieve this, but for one reason or the other this was shunned.

That dossier, which Queiroz had also reportedly shared with the United States of America's football association as they prepared to launch their professional league, Major League Soccer in 1996, is widely said to have gathered dust over the course of the past two decades, never once its contents implemented either as a trial run or fully.

ALSO READ: ‘It’s not my fault that we haven’t met,’ - Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos laments lack of meeting with PSL coaches

The Americans listened to Queiroz and implemented his ideas on youth development and that is why America will be co-hosting the 2026 World Cup with Canada and Mexico with a squad full of talented players plying their trade for some of European football's most prestigious clubs.

The Queiroz era was a time when Bafana was in the top 30 of the FIFA World Rankings, 22 years later we have hardly done anything to improve our youth football and as a result at senior level we now languish 69th in the latest world rankings by FIFA.

We've completely neglected schools football, which was previously a hotbed of talent through which many of this country's greatest players were discovered.

Those few academies that do bring through quality players such as the KZN Football Academy which has taken numerous young South African players to various tiers of the Portuguese football pyramid, Farouk Khan's Stars of Africa which has produced quality players like May Mahlangu who has spent his entire career abroad and Harold "Jazzy Queen" Legodi's Africa Sport Youth Development Academy, which churned out talents like Oupa Manyisa and Mpho Makola, are not sufficiently supported by the country's football association.

Broos is right, if your best player is struggling to make the grade at Al Ahly then you've got some serious problems.

I'm just amazed that South African football fans are acting shocked at what Broos is saying.

The man is spitting facts, whether you like it or not. The fact that national teams we're meant to compete with in Africa have players in the world's best leagues, playing Champions League and Europa League football and we don't is an obvious cause for concern.

I mean how the hell are you going to compete with Nigerian, Ivorian, Ghanaian, Moroccan and Senegalese squads that have guys turning out regularly for clubs in the top flight in England, Spain, Germany, Italy, France, The Netherlands and even Russia while our guys are struggling with proper first touches and other basics at Baroka, Sekhukhune and Marumo Gallants?

Come on Suth Africans, let's be realistic, we need to develop players that can go to these top leagues and compete with the best players. That's about the only way we can enjoy and respectable standing in world football.

Do you honestly expect a squad made up of players whose entire top flight league doesn't even attract 100 000 fans in a weekend of full league fixtures, in stadia across the country, to compete with guys whose teams play every single match in front 50 000+ capacity crowds?

Our problems are many, but if we were once amongst the 16 best national teams in world football, as we were in the aftermath of our AFCON 96 triumph, then there clearly are solutions to those problems.

Some amongst those is actually investigating how SA schools rugby and cricket is able to consistently produce world class players in those sporting codes and applying those methods for professional clubs academies and in those nine provincial schools of excellence we were promised post the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

As the Chinese proverb goes: "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago and the second best time is now."

It is about damn time we began tilling the fertile soil and got planting.

IOL Sport