Thembinkosi Lorch of South Africa celebrates the win over hosts during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Finals Last 16 football match between Egypt and South Africa. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Bafana Bafana's good showing at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt has emboldened the South African Football Association (Safa) to dream bigger.

Local football’s custodians are henceforth no longer going to be pleased with the national teams merely qualifying for international tournaments.

“We’ve been enjoying a successful phase of qualification for the big events,” Safa acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Russell Paul said yesterday during a media briefing at Safa House. “But qualification on its own is not enough. We are now going to try to go beyond just being in the tournament.”

Progression to the knockout stages has eluded most of the country’s national teams in recent times - with both Banyana Banyana and the men’s national Under-20 side returning from their respective World Cups after three round robin phase matches.

Safa believe that has to change and to facilitate that improvement the association’s Technical Director Neil Tovey explained that they are going to utilise as much of the country’s technical brains as possible.

“We’ve been talking for a while now that we need to take our teams to the next level. That we have to get into the knockout stages of major competitions. So as part of this bigger picture we have put in place a system of having 18 provincial technical officers - two per province made up of a men and women - who will work together across all aspects of the game.”

This grassroots structure, he explained, will assist with “coaches education, structure of the leagues, elite programs for players” in order to “add better quality to our national teams”.

According to Tovey, the association will also be putting in place a group of knowledgeable people together for the purpose of a much improved scouting and player monitoring structure.

Safa's Neil Tovey. Photo: Muzi Ntombela / Backpagepix

“We want a think tank of technical people who have played the game internationally to monitor our players here and the world over. We want them to form stronger bonds overseas and with the local clubs so that our national team coaches are well informed about the players they select due to the depth of the information feedback this group will provide.”

The former Bafana captain refuted a suggestion that this whole new approach is an acknowledgement that Safa’s Vision 2022 has failed.

“Vision 2022 is still alive. It has worked because we have had so many of our teams qualify for major tournaments.

“It was a 10 year vision and all we are doing now is upgrading it as we go along.”



The Star

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