by Fanie Heyns

Broad-based strategy called for

Botswana at the University of Botswana Stadium in Gaborone the weekend

ABSA Premiership

South Africa will need a two-prong attack to arrest its alarming football slide very soon before the next Soccer World Cup qualifying match in 2013, after its draw against neighbour Botswana at the University of Botswana Stadium in Gaborone the weekend. A broad-based strategy, starting at school level, is necessary.

Firstly, South Africa needs to appoint a coach earlier rather than later and, secondly, it needs a long-term plan in order to increase its pool of quality players. 

The South African Football Association (SAFA) has identified five potential candidates to coach BafanaBafana. They are Gordon Igesund, coach of Moroka Swallows; Gavin Hunt, coach of SuperSport United; Steve Komphela, present caretaker coach; Shakes Mashaba, coach of the national under-23 side; and Neil Tovey, head coach of Thanda Royal Zulu. 

Hopefully one of these men will help South Africa reverse its fortunes, as it has failed to win its last eight matches. 
South Africa employed a more aggressive and direct approach on Saturday, but was denied by a plucky Botswana – and particularly its superb goalkeeper, Kabelo Dambe. As the Sunday Times claimed, it was another match in which South Africa failed to find an away-win against lowly ranked opposition (106th), and there is a reason: “Bafana do not have the strength of an Ivory Coast who can steamroll opposition – home or away – which is likely to make South Africa’s opening draw all the more costly,” according to the newspaper. 
Komphela said afterward: “We got a beautiful goal and I thought there was a possibility of a result. But we allowed the opposition to come into our box too much (to equalise).
He told, “We're not pleased … We are not happy. The nation deserves better and we have to acknowledge that. It is putting too much strain and pressure on the players, but we have to carry it.
"I don't believe there is a rule in football that you have to draw permanently, neither would you win permanently nor lose permanently. This has to change. 
“We don't know when it would change, but we have to go out and put our heads up. We cannot keep waiting because next time becomes next time and it gets too late. No one wants to wait," Komphela added. 
Bafana last won an official match in August last year when they beat Burkina Faso 3-0 in an international friendly, and Komphela said the winless streak has gone on for far too long. "This has been happening since August; when is it going to change? Nothing lasts forever; this must change." 
Failure at school level 
The Sunday Times lamented the lack of organised schools football, saying cricket and rugby have more developed and richer schools to churn out their talent. 
It added that soccer administrations failed to spot this, and failed to put in place development structures as a countermeasure during the six years leading up to the FIFA Soccer World Cup in 2010. 
Consequently, the young Benni McCarthy’s, Quinton Fortune's, Steven Pienaar's and Sibusiso Zuma’s have disappeared. It has been long since South Africa produced a player capable of making an impact in Europe from the outset. 
South Africa is under pressure, and with an unmotivated team to work with, it has their work cut out against opposition who rate their chances against a team who could not qualify for the African Cup of Nations in 2012. 
If winning against the odds is what is required of South Africa, then perhaps Igesund may get the nod as the BafanaBafana saviour. 
He is the man who has taken four different teams to Absa Premier Soccer League (PSL) glory – some of whom were not heavyweights. 
He inherited a Moroka Swallows team languishing in the relegation zone, and took them from 13th to second spot within a year. 
Igesund is an excellent motivator and leader of men. He can catapult them from rags to riches, and he has been the mentor to Siyabonga Nomvethe, helping him to resurrect his international career during a season in which he scored 20 goals. 
Hunt may be a close second, for he won three Absa PSL titles the past five years, as well as the Nedbank Cup this season. 
The new coach faces a tough assignment, with the biggest challenge being to restore self-belief and improve the quality of the strike force in front of the 18-yard area. He will have to improve the team’s very dismal away-record as well. 
The new coach will further need long-term support from SAFA, which will have to embark on programmes to involve all the top schools in the country – among them fine private schools – in attractive school soccer tournaments with good television coverage to boost the popularity of the game at school level. 
It is no longer acceptable to complain about the lack of white support for soccer. 
SAFA must stop making excuses and find solutions that will strengthen and improve the quality of schools football.  
South Africa’s under-23 team failed to qualify for the Olympic Games yet again, and that should be one of South Africa’s main priorities to get the young guns to qualify for the next Olympics.  
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