I am dedicating this article to all my friends in the Windy Friendly City of Port Elizabeth for the persistent reminder given to them of South Africa’s historic achievement of being the first Nation to fail in the group stages.
It’s my final day and will be moving to the Summer Summer City of Durban (derived from the wonderful weather they have through the year…summer always. I will miss Port Elizabeth and in particular Nelson Mandela Bay where the Great Madiba was born. It’s been good fun and the stadium is arguably the best design of all World Cup stadiums.
It is difficult for me to predict South Africa for glory in 2012 since my beloved Nation and darling Leone Stars is grouped together with Egypt, Niger and our African World Cup Host. It implies that I am predicting qualification from the group and since only two qualify and Egypt, African Nations Cup most successful Nation, is also in the group many will deduce maybe logically that I am implying our wonderful and passionate heroes will fail for 2012/2013.
In truth I am struggling to find support for our Leone Stars when I consider the preparations Bafana Bafana have gone through and the strength Egypt possesses. The Nations Cup for us commences in 8 weeks when we visit Egypt in early September and welcome The Rainbow Nation in October. It is my belief that those two games will determine our chances and if we fail to win one of the two matches or at worst draw both, we will be left with no alternative but to say fare well to qualification for both Nations Cup since it is one qualification. It means our next campaign will be World Cup 2014 and Nations Cup 2015.
Our National team is struggling with restricted funding, improper structures, players reaching the end of their carriers, the inability to develop our younger players to fill in the gaps, the refusal of our best players in The CHAN qualifiers to join the squad before receiving what was promised to them for those matches and a comprehensive report from The Technical Director to advise on a Coaching setup and suggested program for the campaign. It has always been the case and sometimes our boys play well because our footballers survive on the passion, dedication and love they have for the game.
I will remain optimistic and hope we sort things out sooner rather than later and maybe, just maybe, our passion will somehow take us through. If it does it would have to be at the expense of Egypt because I am of the conviction South Africa will qualify and win the 2012 Nations Cup.
The newly appointed Pitso Masimone has an enviable CV. He built Super Sport United and developed them into a leading team before Gavin Hunt took over and added the spice to make them three times Consecutive PSL Champions in South Africa. He has worked as Parreira’s assistant for the World Cup and retains the entire technical and physical team (Brazilians) for his attack on the Nations Cup. He will be receiving a salary around 400,000 Rands a month ($ 55,000) and inherits a truly young team that’s he can communicate with conveniently.
It is believed nobody knows South African football better than Pitso and in an article written by Kaizer Motaung (owner of Kaizer Chiefs) in one of the Club’s magazine in defence of foreign coaches, he was quick to acknowledge the good works of Pitso and implied he was the best South Africa had to offer.
The added advantage with Pitso at the helm is that he knows the South African way and will not try to impose a far more sophisticated Brazilian style of playing. He knows how to get the best of the boys and is very popular with the FA, Club officials, players, supporters and most of the very critical Press.
He will do it the South African way and will motivate them in the way Mandela did the Rugby team in 1995.
However my prediction is not based on the new Coach alone, the team is young, fast, skillful and maturing. They work well together and are developing into a strong African squad and hosting the World Cup has brought the Nation together. The supporters are in The Bafana Bafana Craze and everyone continuously wears their shirts with pride, blow the Vuvuzuela with extreme energy and persistently express their love for their heroes.
The players are mostly home based and at the time the Nations Competition commences, their competitions would have commenced and the players would have been match fit and they boast of having the best league in Africa both financially and in quality. The few foreign based are playing with reputable clubs in Europe and their leagues commence in August implying they would also be match fit by that time.
In addition to what was produced as Bafana Bafana, the coach now has the option of adding some youngsters and is spoilt for choice with incredible options. Football is a commercial game in South Africa and it is producing quality year after year with every club in The Premier, Division one and Division two Leagues proud of their youth teams/academies and acquiring major sporting sponsorship from leading Sports Manufacturers world-wide.
I am convinced that Bafana Bafana will be a strong contender for 2012 and will be The Team to beat. I just hope Sierra Leone can qualify and somehow replicate their performance last year when we beat South Africa in Sierra Leone and drew with them in Johannesburg, but we must realize it’s a totally different ball game this time round.