Cape Town – I watched a horror movie last night.
The first half was rather uneventful. In all honesty, I nearly fell asleep. But then the film gathered some serious momentum and, by the end, it was providing all of the jumps and frights one would expect from the genre.
What made this film unique is that none of the three main characters survived. Usually, the hero overpowers the supernatural force at play and lives to fight another day. Not this time. One by one, they all fell to a demonic force that was the ultimate victor.
It struck me as appropriate that, just minutes after the film ended and while I was still digesting the evil I had witnessed, news broke of FIFA’s decision to order a World Cup qualifier replay between Bafana Bafana and Senegal.
As if things weren’t bad enough.
It is still mathematically possible, but Bafana now find themselves on one point after three rounds of 2018 World Cup qualifying and comfortably bottom of Group D.
It was already a tough ask, but now it would take a minor miracle for Bafana to book a spot in Russia next year, and based on the two performances we have just seen against Cape Verde, there is absolutely no reason to have even the slightest confidence in this side.
For 15 years, there has been nothing to celebrate from a South African perspective.
Hosting the 2010 World Cup was great for the country as a whole, but we should not be fooled into thinking that it in any way was a reflection of the healthy state of our football.
2002 was the last time South Africa earned the right to play in a World Cup, but since then you would do well to find any Bafana success stories.
Year after year, there is disappointment after disappointment.
Coaches and players come and go, journalists have their say, SAFA tells us that they have a plan … but in the end, nothing really ever changes.
If you’re not angry, you should be.
Danny Jordaan was first elected as CEO of SAFA in 1997 – that’s 20 years ago. And while he is hailed as the man who brought the World Cup to our shores, he is also the man who thought it was a good idea to be the mayor of Port Elizabeth while he was SAFA president.
Those are two pretty demanding jobs, and the fact that Jordaan was allowed to serve in both capacities speaks volumes about the state of SAFA and how seriously they have taken their responsibility to facilitate the growth of the game in our country.
SAFA deputy president, Lucas Nhlapo, was also doing two jobs when he was appointed mayor of the Bela-Bela municipality in Limpopo in 2014.
How is this acceptable?
SAFA has a mandate to strengthen football in South Africa, and its top dogs should be devoting all, not part, of their time to making that happen.
Jordaan has made empty promises and, under his leadership, we have moved backwards as a national side.
Poor results on the field are one thing, but Bafana have also been investigated for match-fixing under the leadership of former president Kirsten Nematandani, they have been accused of buying the 2010 World Cup and now they have been forced to deny any involvement in last November’s 2-1 win over Senegal that has since been scrapped from the record books and labeled as “manipulated”.
We hear about the success of ‘Vision 2020’, but we don’t see it.
Where is the Hoy Park Academy, SAFA’s state-of-the-art facility in Durban that was promised all the way back in 2013?
It was due to be the first major academy in South Africa, and back then Jordaan spoke proudly of SAFA’s plans to build such facilities in each province.
Where is the money from 2010? Where are the academies, the schools? Where do young, talented kids go to develop? Is there a plan of what that development should entail? Why has the quality of football in the PSL stagnated? Why are there so many bosses in South African football with their fingers in other pies? Where is the administration? Where is the leadership?
There are a lot of questions, and not enough answers.
SAFA is a shambles and the fact that they have not made a real impact at grassroots level in all of this time is disgusting.
They can sit there and say that plans are in place and that real progress is being made, but anybody who has devoted any time to the game in this country knows that there is very little chance of young talent being identified and nurtured.
Football is, by far, the most played sport in the country. It deserves more. It deserves servants of the game who are passionate about bettering the lives of youngsters who love this sport.
We can blame the players and the coaches, but in the end they are a symptom of a far greater problem that exists.
SAFA has failed the country.
Bafana Bafana have gone from being one of the most prized assets of the new, democratic South Africa to an indication of how far things have fallen.
What’s more scary is that there doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel.
In this movie, SAFA always survives. Bafana and their supporters, though, never do.
Lloyd Burnard is a journalist at Sport24 and the former Sports Editor of The Witness newspaper …
Disclaimer:Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.
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Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero