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Is SAFA Deliberately Trying To Sabotage Bafana Bafana?

20/11/2016 17:45 SAST | Updated 20/11/2016 19:53 SAST
Paul Bradbury

The saying, don't change anything if it's not broken is certainly correct and would apply to what has happened to Bafana Bafana. The glory days of competitive competitions and being a force to be reckoned with are gone.

From the African Nations Cup triumph of 1996 which came five years after readmission, to their highest FIFA ranking of 16th, the team has been on a downward spiral ever since then. A number of factors have contributed to this trend but one appears to be glaring us in the face yet we chose to ignore it.

I personally think the South African Football Association is deliberately hampering and sabotaging the national team. Every time Bafana seem to be on the right path, the powers that be throw in a spanner and remove the coach.

The trend started in the 1990's and has been continuing much to the detriment of the national team. Here is a brief history of the many "sabotage" acts by the powers that be in suits.

In 1998, the only coach to have ever won a major tournament with the senior men's team Clive Barker was removed on the eve of the African Nations Cup tournament in Burkina Faso and replaced with Jomo Sono as caretaker coach.

The "Black Prince of South African Soccer" did well to guide the team to the final but they came second best to Egypt.

For the little time he had with the team it was indeed a remarkable feat but that would, however, spell the fall from grace of the once glorious Bafana.

Then Sono left the position in March of 1998 and was replaced by Frenchman Philippe Troussier who was then tasked with taking the team to France for the World Cup, three months before the tournament started.

That move would result in a drubbing in the opening match against the host who won the match 3-0. They drew their other matches and were eliminated in the first round, a curse that has followed the team ever since.

Despite the loss in the final and an exit from the World Cup, many saw the nation as a rising force in football. Instead of capitalising on the foundation that was laid with playing in the tournament, once again the coach left and in stepped Trott Moloto.

He took the team to the continental competition in 2000 where the team finished third. With the focus then shifting to the 2002 World Cup, the powers that be then interfered again to get rid of Moloto and appoint Carlos Queiroz.

He, however, could not halt the continual decline and fall from grace of Bafana Bafana. Queiroz and his men were eliminated in the quarter-finals against hosts Mali. But once again madness set in and the behind the scenes struggles got the better of those in air conditioned offices. History repeated itself once more as on the eve of the tournament Sono had to be roped in to lead the team to the global showpiece.

That World Cup was the end of South African football making a mark on the global stage. The country continued to chop and change coaches faster than Superman could fly around the world saving those in danger.

The move did more harm than good. The lack of stability in the team resulted in Bafana performing dismally at the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations. The next tournament was no different and I think many of the football fans in the country or the world would remember the 2006 tournament as the most pathetic performance by our national team. They were knocked out in the first round and failed to score a goal.

With a need for a quick fix to the problem, the powers that be broke the bank vault and went after the decorated Carlos Alberto Parreira to take the reigns from 2007. The appointment initially seemed as though SAFA had woken up from its slumber and was starting to build for the future and ensure a rise of the once glorious team. The plan was for him to build a team that would take on the world when the global showpiece came to our shores.

That, however, would not be the case. The team once again got knocked in the first round of the 2008 continental competition. The country was then shocked when Parreira announced he was stepping down from his role.

Then came in Joel Santana who was recommended by Parreira but I think the less said about the gentleman the batter. The symptom of changing managers before a major tournament kicked in once again and Santana left with Parreira coming back in to lead the nation to the promised land in 2010.

His first spell was the Confederations Cup and that provided a glimmer of hope with Bafana holding their own and finishing fourth in the tournament. Next was the World Cup but I don't think I need to remind you of the pain felt at being the first host nation to be knocked out in the first round.

Parreira left and was replaced by his assistant Pitso Mosimane. We obviously can't forget his blunder when he played for a draw instead of a win and in the process missing out on the 2012 Afcon competition. Steve Komphela was brought in as interim coach while a permanent coach was interviewed. That was happening while Bafana was playing qualifiers for the World Cup.

Gordon Igesund was appointed and went on to lead the team during Afcon 2013 on home soil. To be honest that tournament saw a much-improved performance from the team. That performance, however, could not be carried forward for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

After Igesund's departure Shakes Mashaba returned and his initial games were relatively successful and he managed to guide the team to Afcon 2015 qualification in style. Fans and supporters started to have faith and believe once more.

The tournament, however, did not pen out as the country had hoped. Fast forward to 2016 in the middle on World Cup qualifiers, Mashaba has been hit with a disciplinary hearing. I'm not condoning his actions or standing up for the guy but what is happening is not good for the stability of the team.

Should SAFA decide to get rid of him as he claims is the case, can that happen ASAP to ensure that the next person to be parachuted in has enough time to assemble his desired team and prepare for the next World Cup. Please don't get me wrong I could just be reading too much into all this but when you start tampering with a winning formula before major competition it does raise a few eyebrows.