A decade of progress for Bafana Bafana? Yes and no ...

By Mihlali Baleka Time of article published Jul 6, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - It’s been 10 years since the Fifa World Cup was hosted on home soil but there’s still a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the state of South African football.

Many are questioning whether there’s been progress in the last decade or not. Mihlali Baleka looks at the good and bad of local football since then.

THE GOOD 

PSL standard has evolved 

The South African domestic league is arguably one of the best on the continent. Not only did it generate revenue of R1billion for the 2018/19 financial year, it has been marketed almost on a par with the most successful campaigns around the world. As such, it has been relatively easy for the league to attract players from all walks of life.

Infrastructure has been maintained

Given that a lot of money was deployed for the development of infrastructure during the global showpiece, it’s been pleasing that a lot of attention still goes into maintaining it, even today.

Carlos Alberto Parreira (left) and Pitso Mosimane shares a moment during their time together with Bafana Bafana. Photo: Allan Lipp/Backpagepix

Pitso Mosimane resurgance

An assistant coach to 2010 Bafana Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, Pitso Mosimane has taken domestic football by storm in recent seasons. Not only has he led Mamelodi Sundowns to four domestic league titles, he also conquered the continent in 2016, winning the coveted Caf Champions League and Super Cup.

Development given attention 

It’s been six years since the MultiChoice Diski Challenge, the reserve league, was established. And such has been its prominence that a number of academy graduates have gone on to become household names in top-flight football, European leagues and Bafana Bafana.

Women's football gets exposure 

Last year, Banyana Banyana made their first appearance in the Fifa Women’s World Cup. But such has been the development around women’s football that a new professional National Women’s League was started this season. Champions Sundowns are also in line to compete in the upcoming Caf Champions League from next season.

Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis has led the team to various big tournaments over the last few years. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

THE BAD

SA footballers face European curse

While it’s almost every player’s dream to play at the highest level, there’s been an unfortunate trend of local stalwarts failing to establish themselves in European football. And that has raised questions over the state of Bafana’s ability to qualify for major tournaments, especially after missing out of the last two World Cups.

Poor stadium attendance

The standard of football in the PSL may have developed, but there’s still poor attendance with more empty seats in the stadiums. But with supporters still deprived of football due to the lockdown, many will hope people will pack the stadiums after Covid-19.

Bafana's hiatus from major tournaments

The South Africans may have astonishingly made the quarter-finals of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations but that they last qualified for the World Cup finals as hosts 10 years ago is alarming. Bafana missed out on the football festival in Brazil in 2014 and Russia in 2018.

Bafana Bafana have failed to qualify for the last two World Cup tournaments. Picture: EPA

Poor financial decisions

The PSL may pride itself on being one of the best-paying leagues on the continent but the state in which footballers dry out financially after their playing days is really a concern. While Absa, the outgoing top-flight’s chief sponsor, wanted to address such issues this season, it remains to be seen whether the next sponsor will follow suite.

Poor officiating

Video Assistant Refereeing might cost a fortune, but considering the irregularities by officials this season and before, maybe it’s about time the SA Football Association considered investing in the technological system. Not only does poor officiating cost teams matches, it sure taints the image of the brand.

@Mihlalibaleka

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