South Africa’s Day of Shame

By Gemma Mcdonald | October 9th, 2011 5 Comments

On a day when the Springboks crashed out of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, Bafana Bafana failed to qualify for the 2012 African Nations Cup. After a squalid 0-0 draw against Sierra Leone, the South African players danced to the crowd at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit thinking they had done enough to qualify on goal difference.

But with Bafana, Niger, and Sierra Leone tied with nine points, as the rules of the competition clearly state, it was head-to-head points that settled the score. On that basis, Niger qualified. “I’m confused,” said Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane. Really?

Bafana’s inability to produce on the pitch is a natural reflection of the contradictions in the South African game. On the one hand there is a super-rich and gentrifying Premier Soccer League, but on the other hand there is rotting at multiple levels: adminstration; coaching and youth training; playing grounds in townships and villages; schools; and the female game. What the national team symbolizes in fact is the castle of cards that is South African football. The 2010 World Cup was a tremendous success, but local football continues to deteriorate. What’s needed is structural change and long-term sustainable development for the benefit of the 99 percent of SA football outside the PSL.


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Solomon Waliaula

October 9th, 2011 | 7:56 am    

True, the double loss for SA in sport was cruel, but as Peter puts it, the cruelty is not entirely undeserved, indeed, it is like a twisted version Newton’s Second Law of Motion, no or little action (especially in the soccer case) for SA has resulted in immense reaction … and this is not just in relation to SA, Nigeria and Cameroon have suffered the same fate!

…but in my opinion, the most cruel verdict was visited upon our neighbour Uganda. Uganda was on course to qualify for the ACN after an absence of more than 3 decades…the cranes had it in their hands….their game against a very weak Kenya (I have to say the truth, even if am Kenyan) was in Kampala. All they hasd to do was win the match, and even if Angola scored 30 goals against Guinea Bissau, that wouldn’t affect the outcome. Uganda could have 13 points and Angola 12 points. But the game ended in a Barren draw.

And here comes the shocker … I heard Ugandans complaining on BBC East African radio that Kenya should have let them win, so that they represent East Africa, that Kenya didn’t have to fight so hard for the draw because that meant that Angola, a South Western African country qualifies from the group! That Kenya simply played the dog in the manger. But remember Kenya too could have qualified if they beat Uganda and Angola lost to Guinea Bissau!


October 10th, 2011 | 11:53 pm    

I for one found this episode a bit funny

Thabo Dladla

October 14th, 2011 | 11:57 am    

Peter has hit the nail on the head. South African football seem to always look for short cuts.It is clear in my mind that if you can not beat the likes of Seara Leone, Niger etc you do not deserve to play in the Nations Cup. We have an ageing team and a professional league that has failed to produce a player of substance in the past few years.

Players are developed. They do not grow in the trees like fruits. We lack the committment to do the right things. Knowledge or knowing is not appreciated. Youth development does not exist. We pass stupid rules like making First and Third division leagues age group leagues. You cannot mix youth and adult football. All nations that are serious about football understand these basics.

It seems we are not learning. Wev travel all over the world and see how the best go about developing football. It seems to me that the majority of us lack committment and love for the game. It is a shame that many generations of excellent talent has been lost. We are going to find it very difficult to qualify for 2014 world cup. Changes in thinking is required and people must start becoming accountable for their deeds. South African masses are not playing their roles.

Stuar Miller

October 21st, 2011 | 12:59 am    

I got involved in Football development pre-2005 ACN, that was to be held in Egypt. 3 days prior to the event kicking-off, the SA team, led in part by Benni McCarthy, decided to renegotiate their contract with SAFA, for more money (there have been other occassions, including pre-WC 2010). This action underscored the reasons for my involvement at the development level.

Since then I have experienced the same attitudes by young male and female players alike, some as young as 13 years of age, but particularly those with a little talent. I’m sure I need not extrapolate the obvious. The structures of football at the junior levels are equally as corrupt and driven by greed as are their PSL peers. I completely support the comments by Gemma Mcdonald and other commentators, regarding the allocation of funds with a top-down approach. I was in the SAFA development office post the firing of their director for speaking out about the allocation of development funds (around 2007) and noticed 9 soccer training walls. On enquiry I was told that 1 was being allocated for each province?

The gravy-train is rolling along smoothly without challenge or accountability. We lack strong, knowledgeable leadership and commit to islands of power and even development, we are not networking our resources collectively, make no mistake this is a dictatorship and we know who they are.

General Secretary of the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu), Zwelinzima Vavi, within a political context, sums up our collective attitude:

“This is the moment of slate politics and the winner takes all philosophy, of sidelining talented individuals in favour of the weakest just because they are on the ‘correct slate’.

“These divisions have made us extremely tolerant of mediocrity and we celebrate the lowering of standards, a time where double-speak and double standards reign supreme,” he said.

I see no hope for the near future without strength in leadership that places emphasis on youth structures building for the collective future. SAFA do not support development initiatives, they window-dress.


October 21st, 2011 | 3:26 am    

Thanks for these passionately delivered and insightful comments (and the humor, Mohlomi!). The need for leadership (Stuart) and for ordinary people to play their part (Thabo) are absolutely critical if there is any hope of raising future South African (and African) stars and engaged citizens. There are no shortcuts.

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