Sport

Parliament committee tells Safa to pull its socks up

Stuart Graham

Parliament's sports committee has told Safa that South African soccer needs to get serious about preparation and developing young talent.

MPs asked soccer bosses on Tuesday why South Africa’s resource-rich national team Bafana Bafana was not able to beat teams from poor and war-ravaged countries.

“You want us to be [the] number one team in Africa,” ANC MP Richard Mdakane told a delegation of South African Football Association (Safa) bosses briefing the portfolio committee on sport.

“We have to overtake [Côte d’Ivoire], which is a tall order ... Despite the fact that there is war in the [Côte d’Ivoire], they have been able to develop [their] team to this level. Surely South Africa should be higher than them.”

Mdakane said Safa was the only association with resources in Africa.

“Surely we can’t perform worse than other countries that don’t have resources to do their work,” he said.

DA MP Japie van der Linde told the delegation that the problem in South African soccer was that there was “too much money and too little that they produce”.

“The amount of money in soccer against the rest of Africa ... It is really bad the way South African soccer is standing up to the rest of Africa.”

The Safa delegation included acting president Mwelo Nonkonyana and chief executive Robin Petersen,

Under-preparation
Earlier, the acting chairperson of Parliament’s sports committee said South Africa’s national soccer team had to stop being the laughing stock of sport.

“We must stop being laughing stock of sports… Look what has happened in Gabon,” Mgolodi Dikgacwi said.

“Under-preparation. This is a problem. In other countries this is not a problem.”

The South African team recently failed to qualify for the Africa Nations Cup tournament to be held next year.

Dikgacwi told the soccer bosses: “We need to sort that thing out. In rugby that does not happen. It is only in soccer that this is happening. So I don’t know what is what.”

Cope MP Graham McKenzie said it was “totally unacceptable” that South Africa, which would host the Africa Nations Cup, had failed to qualify for the tournament.

“Not only from a point of view of disappointment, but also there are massive implications for our country.”

We’re sorry
Nonkonyana told the committee Safa had accepted joint responsibility for failing the nation.

“We didn’t qualify. We have proffered our apology to the nation. We took collective responsibility. We reiterate today that apology.”

Petersen said the key to having successful teams in future was to have a continuous pipeline of talented, well-developed players.

“We have commitment, we have a plan and we are implementing that plan,” he said.

Petersen said Bafana Bafana’s immediate goal was to win its qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

A series of competitive friendlies had been arranged to ensure that the team continued to rise in Fifa rankings and achieved a seeding in international tournaments.

The first match would be played against Africa’s top-rated side, Côte d’Ivoire, at the weekend, he said.—Sapa

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