ON BAFANA: OUR NATIONAL TAME
Joel N Santana and his charges have recently returned from a holiday guised as a tour in Europe. While in there they faced a fourth ranked Germany, and unsurprisingly lost 2-0 to the Michael Ballack led team. Bafana Bafana as our soccer national team or is tame are known hit a low when they lost to a second fiddle Republic of Ireland, coached by the veteran Italian tactician- Giovanni Trappatoni. And by doing, Bafana registered their sixth loss on the trot. The worst streak of loses since we were readmitted to the FIFA membership in 1992. The Portuguese speaking coach who leads our national tame exemplifies the insistence of stupidity. How else would he explain his continued using more than one holding midfielder even in matches where an attack minded approach would suffice? And when the squad was quizzed on its lacklustre performance, our most capped player – captain Arron Mokoena with 93 caps says ‘’we are still learning’’. Learning what exactly, how to test the limits of patriotism of the supporters of Bafana or perhaps they are learning how to ensure that come June 11 next year we will be ranked in 120s on the FIFA’s log?
It is quite clear that SAFA CEO, Raymond Hack, was not thinking( if ever) straight when he said that it was blessing in disguise that Santana had failed to guide the team to next’s African Cup Of Nations to held in Angola. All the competitive game time we would have gotten in Angola would have gone a long in sharpening the team’s ability on the grand stage. So, what now? Well, it is quite clear that sacking Santana would be the most suicidal if we still harbour inspirations of progressing beyond the group stages of the world cup. Bear in mind that no host nation has failed to do so in all of the previous world cup editions. But this is an African world, and we may just to that and set ourselves apart from the past hosts. As long as national team players are not selected based on form then we are kidding ourselves. True that the coach has a ‘plan’ but it seems to be content with defend even when we play country that aren’t attacking us. Santana has to learn to throw caution in the wind and gamble on friendlies. If he does not gamble on those, we ones will he gamble on, the world cup?
WORLD CUP SPOTS UP FOR GRABS STILL
No country has the right to a world cup appearance, except for the host nation. Thanks FIFA has not revisited that policy because if it had done so, we would not have made it to the world cup. Every country has a right to participate in the elimination of competitors and a stage where it forms part of the last 32 teams required for a world cup tournament. The latest qualifiers saw Paraguay and Brazil, the only country to have qualified for all previous world cups, book their place with a victory over their continental arch rival- Diego Maradona’s Argentina. The former bridesmaids of world soccer and now European champions- Spain will also be making a return to our shore. One time world champions and currently the most unrivalled chokers of the international footballing arena- England have qualified and the coach, Fabio Capello, says a world cup final is the least his ‘golden generation’ of English footballers can do next. In Africa, the Black Star of Ghana became the first team to book a place. The likes of Nigeria, Togo, Cameroon and Egypt have it all to do if they want to feature next year.
Ivory Coast led by Dieder Drogba need a victory to secure a place. In South America, where there only two automatic spots remaining, the likes of Columbia, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and Uruguay will slug it for the remaining slots. In North America the usual suspect – U.S.A and Mexico are on course for another appearance in the finals. The French and Portuguese national team stare the embarrassment of not qualifying automatically even though they boast some of the most refined players in the world. In fact, France’s of a top of the group finish rests in the form Serbia’s hands. While Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal should just forget an automatic ticket to SA because there is no reason that suggest the Danes will let slip their chance of qualifying for their first world cup since Korea/Japan in 2002. And the South/North America and European qualifiers have two matches remaining. By the October 10 it will be known which countries will be joining the Netherlands, North/South Korea, Australia, Japan and the already mentioned countries for the draw to take place in Cape Town on December 4. Which ever country that would have made it as part of the last 32 would be have deserved that place. So, lets see whether the ‘power houses’ will stand and be counted or will the forth coming world cup be that of dark horses? Will the likes of Slovenia, Serbia, Algeria, Ghana, Mexico, the Koreans and very possibly South Africa break the tradition of old? Let’s wait and see!
WORLD YOUTH CHAMPIONSHIP
Amajita , the national under 20 team, will be participating in the FIFA World Youth Championships to be staged in Egypt next week . Amajita, the first side to be Nigeria in an official match, qualified by virtue of making to the semi final of the African Youth Championships which were held in Kigali, Rwanda earlier in the year. Coach Serame Letsoaka named his squad to represent the country at the prestigious tournament. The likes of Benni McCarthy were discovered at these championships. Perhaps the boys will play well and in the process earn themselves contracts from credible leagues abroad. The same under 20 team should be gradually introduced into the under 23 and even senior national team as we look ahead at the challenges of qualifying for the 2012 Olympics in London and the 2014 world cup in Brazil.
The Squad: Darren Keet (Wits), Thela Ngobeni and Mandla Masango (Chiefs), Tawfeed Salie; Thulani Hlatshwayo; George Maluleka; Sameehg Doutie (Ajax), Ramahlwe Mphahlele; Sibusiso Khumalo and Phumelele Bhengu (Swallows), Andile Jali and Sibusiso Mxonyana (Pirates), Thulani Ngcepe; Collen Zulu and Kamohelo Mokotjo (Supersport), Dino Ndlovu (Platinum Stars), Gladwin Shitolo (Cosmos), Daylon Claasen ( A. Amsterdam), Kermit Erasmus (Feyenoord).