Too many voices talk past each other at Safa

A new player has emerged on the perennially dysfunctional landscape that is South African football. Minister of Sport and Recreation Makhenkesi Stofile has always been vocal and contemptuous of the way the South African Football Association (Safa) administers the game. This week, his displeasure with the national association charted new terrain when he stated that he has a secret plan for Bafana Bafana.

This strategy apparently centres on a turn-around plan for the national team, whose sinking form continues to raise fears about whether the country will be able to produce a decent side able to progress to the knockout stages of the 2010 World Cup. Early this year, Stofile said he had serious doubts whether that was possible. 

But who is privy to this secret plan? Unusually, Safa CEO Raymond Hack was mum. Mwelo Nonkonyana, chairperson of Safa’s commercial wing—the new structure tasked with the administration of Bafana Bafana—pleaded ignorance. “I am in the dark,” he said.

Safa is yet to draw a road map for 2010. The commercial wing is yet to start work. There cannot be any optimism about Bafana Bafana, certainly not now that there are so many voices talking past each other.

On the one hand, interim coach Pitso Mosimane says the current national team is the foundation upon which Carlos Alberto Parreira will build. The technical committee disagrees, accusing Mosimane of violating selection policy, which, it says, states clearly that most Bafana Bafana players should be under 20.

The committee suggests Stofile’s “secret plan” might not be too far from the long-mooted idea that Safa needs to launch a high-intensity programme, focusing on identifying young players and putting them into an intensive training schedule.

That plan would include organising matches against renowned opponents to ensure that the players are exposed to competitive football pitched at the highest level.   

There are suggestions that Brazil, Germany, France and England could be in line for friendlies. The problem is that no one can confirm this because of the lack of coordination among Safa’s various committees.

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