Fellow South Africans, I write to you with a heavy heart as I bore witness to yet another example of the indifferent expression of self-contempt veiled in a devious cloak of bold naturalism. In a piece I wrote earlier this year titled – Remember the truth about Bafana’s AFCON2015 – I remember warning you to beware of the lazy pundit with his lame attempt to feed you lies. This weeks’ analysis of the Bafana Bafana was yet another classic example of this phenomenon. As football pundits expressed their dismay with our National Football team on multiple platforms, I could not help but pinch myself, hoping that the sharp pain would wake me from this nightmare. Alas it never happened.
It is absolutely befuddling to me, that one of the key points coming out of the seething attacks on the coach this week has been that “we don’t even know where we are with Vision 2022.” This is amazing to me because for a whole month after his appointment, SAFA president Danny Jordaan was all over the media articulating the premise for this vision. I seem to recall him saying that currently South Africa does not have the players to win AFCON 2015, or AFCON 2017, or play for a medal at the FIFA World Cup of 2018. For that reason as a country we need to improve the capacity of the structures required to produce these results, so we can at least be able to compete and produce sustainable results come World Cup 2022 (as I paraphrase loosely).
Now what does this mean? Well, let’s use Argentina as a unit of study. If you go and look at the call-ups they have had over the last 12 – 18 months, the following age-mix is represented without fail. There would be four to six players in their early to mid-thirties, then you will find ten to fifteen players in their mid- to late twenties and the balance being players in their early twenties.
If you apply this rational to South Africa’s seven year timeline till 2022, and also take into consideration that for the first time in four years, we actually have active junior national team programs competing in international tournaments. Some of which have qualified for the first time ever. Then it stands to reason that come 2022, we should have four to six players in their early to mid-thirties coming out of the Serero’s, the Khune’s, Mathoho’s, the Jali’s, and the Rantie’s and so on; who are all in Mashaba’s team today. We should have ten to fifteen players who are in their mid- to late twenties, coming out of today’s under 20’s and the under 23’s. We should have the balance of the squad coming out of today’s under 17’s.
You can play around with the mix this way or that way. In other words, less over-thirties, and more under twenty-fives like Germany does. Or more over thirties and less under twenty-fives like Italy does. Either way, you still need a full generation with a pool of 50+ players who in their mid-twenties with junior team credentials. Plus another generation of 20+ plus players in their thirties with at least two continental tournament credentials. Only then can you say that we can compete in a World Cup; and I hate to burst your bubble, but it will take us 7-8 years to get there.
This is not rocket science. You can imagine how ridiculous it is for a whole country to up in arms over a loss in a qualifier for a tournament which is not even a strategic objective? AFCON 2017, like AFCON 2015 are but a milestone in a greater strategic plan which is Vision 2022. For the life of me, I just cannot understand what all the commotion is about. I would expect people who are analysts and experts should see this.
As for the question about the consistency in selection, I mean really!
If you consider the timelines in the overall plan, then how can anybody expect to see consistency in selection? If you building a pool of 20+ players with continental tournament experience in seven years’ time. Then you have to” widen the base for selection.” Because you never know, anything can happen. People could die, some could get injured, some could retire prematurely, you never know. Bottom line is if widening the base for selection is the key objective, then expecting to see some consistency in selection before 2019 is unrealistic.
Again, I would have thought that people who are experts in this field should know this. But anyway, perhaps I expect too much from the lazy pundits.
The tempest prognosticator
Themba A Dikgale