The national football team will soon begin a qualifying programme for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, accompanied by a reasonable mixture of hopes and doubts.
On Tuesday, Bafana Bafana got to know that from June onwards they will face Morocco, Zimbabwe and Liberia in their qualifying group for a spot in the 24-team finals in Ivory Coast next June. The draw was not too harsh on coach Hugo Broos’ unsettled football outfit by all accounts, with the Moroccans seen as their stiffest opponents. The rules for the newly-expanded competition also give Bafana Bafana a chance to advance from their group with the second-best set of results after playing a total of six matches.
Given their frustrating history, however, there is bound to be varied feelings about the team’s campaign among supporters and critics alike. And, even if they do qualify for the main tournament, the team’s instability is still set to raise doubts about their potential to stun any opponents in Ivory Coast. This is an unacceptable scenario.
In view of the fact that Bafana Bafana have reportedly been battling for acceptable results for a staggering 20 years, now seems an appropriate time for a process of formal introspection to be undertaken by those involved in South African football. It would not hurt for members of the SA Football Association and Premier Soccer League to come together at an indaba to look at what youth development has been done to date, what club structures offer to the national cause, and what is required for the future, among other things.
With practise said to make perfect, there really appears room to investigate training opportunities for youngsters and whether the right standard of coaching is available to bring naturally talented players up to the required level.
The massive 5-0 defeat that Bafana Bafana suffered in France last month certainly highlighted the country’s shamefully poor position on the international football ladder. Supporters deserve to have a better performing team.