OPINION: Players are using the national team
Posted: 22 May 2014 Time: 12:46
The current Bafana Bafana debacle which saw 14 players pulling out of the national team ahead of friendly internationals against Australia and New Zealand is – to put it mildly – scandalous and a disgrace to the county’s flag.
I put the blame at the door of our unpatriotic and overpaid players who only want to play for the country when it’s convenient to do so, or when they see an opportunity to market themselves to overseas scouts.
When we played against Brazil a few months ago, we had players popping up everywhere like mushrooms and ready to die for the national team jersey. Now that we are playing against Australia (who have actually qualified for the World Cup), the same players are not interested in playing for the country.
I maintain that had we qualified for Brazil, all these so-called ‘injured’ players would be fit as a fiddle and ready to play. Not a single player would be complaining about a minor injury.
I’m well aware that the two friendly matches against Australia and New Zealand fall outside the FIFA calendar and therefore players are not obliged to play, as per FIFA rules.
But then these matches are very important in a sense that it’s our only chance to assess our team ahead of the 2015 African Nations Cup qualifiers in September.
That, of course, is without stating the obvious which is the pride and prestige that comes with representing your country, no matter in which sport.
Our local players complain about fatigue, but what about someone like Thulani Serero? He had a grueling schedule with Ajax Amsterdam, being a key player in the League title win, and also played in the toughest club competition the world, the UEFA Champions League. Yet he honoured his call-up.
Anele Ngcongca had a hectic season in Belgium and battled with injuries, but like a true patriot he honoured his call-up.
But other players decided the matches were not important enough and decided to pull out.
Not fit enough to represent the national team when needed, but fit enough to fly to Brazil for the World Cup for some Vaseline competition. Is this someone we need as a captain of our national team? My answer is an emphatic ‘No’.
Yes, Khune did suffer an injury earlier this year, but he came back and played several matches for Kaizer Chiefs towards the end of the season. If he was seriously injured as he puts it, then how did he play all those matches?
SAFA’s list of players who should be suspended should also include Bidvest Wits striker Sthembiso Ngcobo. Not that he had a future with the national team, but to tell the coach that you can’t spend a week with the national team because you will see your family is totally uncalled for. This is an absolute disgrace.
But my biggest surprise is that, despite this disgrace, SAFA and their president Dr Danny Jordaan have yet to say anything to show their disgust.
Whether they want to keep coach Gordon Igesund or not, they should say something and act. All these so-called injured players should have been examined by the Bafana team doctor.
And it’s so ironic that this travesty happens 20 years after South Africa celebrated democracy. In May 1994, just after Nelson Mandela was inaugurated, we saw Bafana Bafana players playing their hearts out in a friendly match against Zambia.
Now 20 years later, all this seems a lifetime away. And if SAFA doesn’t act and send a strong message, this is something that will continue.
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