Time for SAFA to step up to the plate and support Bafana Bafana with basic needs

Percy Tau of South Africa celebrates with teammates against Morocco. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Percy Tau of South Africa celebrates with teammates against Morocco. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Published Jun 23, 2023


Cape Town - SAFA are duty-bound to provide Bafana Bafana with basic needs such as playing opportunities and resources to become a force to be reckoned with.

One of the most important functions that Safa need to perform is to provide the team with opportunities to play.

This year, after six months,

Bafana only played Liberia (away and home) and Morocco in 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. Since these were all Caf fixtures, Safa had not arranged a single game for the national team during this time.

It is likely South Africa will play a friendly later this year during the international break. It looks like the team will have four 2023 games under the belt before they challenge for Afcon honours in Ivory Coast in January next year.

Playing four or five games a year is hopelessly inadequate for Bafana to thrive and Safa must do something about it. SA have a lowly world ranking of 66th and Safa have contributed to that by not ensuring regular games for the team.

A few days ago, Bafana defeated Morocco, the 11th-world ranked team, who reached the World Cup semi-finals in November last year.

Before Morocco played Bafana, they played friendlies against Brazil (2), Peru (21) and Cape Verde (71) in the past four months.

Bafana coach Hugo Broos has already appealed for friendly matches regularly and against high-ranked opponents like Morocco. Will his appeal fall on deaf ears?

In his appeal, Broos also pointed out that there was no value in playing teams like Botswana, a 152-ranked country. “With all due respect, we mustn’t play against Botswana, no! We need to have teams like Morocco now,” Broos said.

In the past, Safa have not always made the most of international breaks, when Bafana had time to play friendlies if there are no competitive fixtures. Instead of playing twice in the space of a few days, the team often played once. That might have happened because of financial constraints, but matches could have been arranged in proximity to neighbouring countries.

On occasions when the breaks were longer, there would have been opportunities to play three games but it would seem Safa were not always alert to these possibilities.

There is an age-old stand-off between Safa and the PSL. It is something Safa should not permit to stifle their efforts to grow the senior national team by arranging regular training camps and friendlies.

After the Morocco match, superstar Percy Tau said Bafana would be even stronger if the squad had more opportunities of training together.

The lack of friendlies and the absence of regular training camps are systemic issues at the heart of the SA national game. It rings true at all levels, and it was highlighted last month when SA bombed out of the Under-17 Afcon quarter-finals after a 5-0 thrashing by Senegal.

Safa must also start thinking of creating window breaks so that domestic games can stop to allow the national teams to report for training camps or play friendlies.