SAFA must build for a long-term future
Posted: 14 July 2014 Time: 11:25
Two years ago, shortly after Bafana Bafana’s failure to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, I wrote an article on the way forward for our national team.
I suggested that SAFA and Gordon Igesund, still new in the job then, look beyond the 2013 and 2015 Africa Cup of Nations and instead build a team that will not only qualify us for the 2018 World Cup, but also make us competitive.
That ‘plan’ included getting rid of all the older players in the squad and throwing our lot with young stars like Ayanda Patosi, May Mahlangu and Thulani Serero – guys who should be at their peak come the tournament in Russia.
I called on SAFA and the public to understand a longer term vision where results are not as paramount as building a cohesive unit that could dominate the continent for years to come.
But how different it could all be. Just imagine we had taken the approach of Germany – a traditional footballing nation who were down in the dumps at the turn of the century, and who realised long-term planning was needed.
Rather than panic at a few negative results first off, they stuck by their coach and his plans to build a legacy – planning that ultimately resulted in their fourth World Cup title last night.
Coach Joachim Loew summed it up perfectly after the match, saying: “I think this title will give us a push for the future; we don't have many players in the squad above 30.
“Look at Gotze, Muller, Ozil and Reus, who wasn’t here – there are a lot of players who can still achieve a lot in their careers.
“The Bundesliga has a huge influence on the team and the training the young players get; we had an extremely young team in South Africa in 2010.
“In 2000 and 2004, German football was down and out, we went out in the group phases so we took decisive steps and invested more in the players’ education.
“It wasn't enough just to rely on German virtues, we had to get better on the pitch.
“We created centres of excellence and I am grateful for the clubs who did that. This World Cup victory is a product of the excellent education and training in Germany.”
SAFA are on the verge of appointing a new coach – one that will be tasked with getting Bafana to the World Cup. But will he be given the time to see his plans through?
History suggests that, unless he achieves instant success, he will not. Bafana have had 17 different coaches since readmission in 1992. Germany have had 10 different coaches since 1926…
But hopefully the suits at SAFA will take note of the German approach and the reward it yields. They may as well … we have nothing more to lose.