InsideSport: We can do better than Bafana Bafana

It is a success story that the whole of South Africa is entitled to look back at with joy and pride while at the same time looking forward to the future with optimism.

South Africa’s Bafana Bafana made their country proud after picking up a bronze medal at the just ended 24-team 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.

It is a success story that the whole of South Africa is entitled to look back at with joy and pride while at the same time looking forward to the future with optimism.

Everyone associated with this team cannot wait for Bafana Bafana to enter the field of play again after the Hugo Broos coached side enchanted purists with its brand of short passing football.

What is even heartening is that the South African Football Association are not living on the events of what happened at Afcon 2023 and are already planning for the future.

To them Afcon 2023, is gone and what is important is the future and in particular the 2026 World Cup in which they have engagements against the Warriors of Zimbabwe and the Super Eagles of Nigeria in June.

To their credit, the football federation has already lined up friendly matches against Andora and Algeria to build up for the rigors and pressure associated with the World Cup in which they are also in the same group with Benin, Lesotho, and Rwanda.

It is a fact that South Africa’s revival , 28 years after their finest hour on home soil at Afcon 1996 might have been won on the pitch but it would be cruel to forget the real story behind the show.

Every South African football fan knows that the success in the Ivory Coast would not have been possible had it not been for the football federation that made the right coaching appointment, availed friendly matches, made camping easy and also made sure that the financial guarantees were in place long before the tournament itself.

This is the second time in which Zimbabwe are in the same World Cup group with South Africa, the first being in the run up to the 2002 show when 12 fans perished in a stampede at the National Sports Stadium.

With the matches against Andoira and Algeria, South Africa are already a step ahead in their preparations, but the question is : what are we ourselves doing to prepare our Warriors fully ?

By now, it would have been expected that the Warriors would have had a national team coach in place to spy on Nigeria and South Africa at Afcon 2023.

Sadly, the nation — has since the departure of Baltermar Brito — been kept guessing as to who the coach would be and the normalisation committee (NC) does not seem to have a clue as to whom they want - a local or a foreign coach.

Instead, the NC has devoted its energies to internal policing like who should lead the Zimbabwe Women’s Soccer League while relegating the Warriors to second string.

Questions are also being raised why — after all —they allowed Brito to go after he had built up a relationship with the players as bringing in a new coach would mean starting all over again.

A lot has been said about Genesis Mangombe taking over the Marvelous Nakamba-captained Warriors, but at this level of competition is Mangombe the right man or that the authorities just want somebody cheap or more importantly a Yes Man.

Without sounding too knowledgeable on football, it would be advisable for Zifa to go after Brito and ask him to return to finish the World Cup campaign he started.

In the meantime, the NC should get themselves busy in organising warm up matches not against the likes of Botswana or Swaziland but modest African football nations like Angola, Cape Verde and Mali.

That is the way to do it and they should also ensure that finances for the team’s camping, friendly matches, and bonuses, are available to avoid the payment chaos that characterized previous campaigns.

Lest we forget. We are also waiting for the fulfillment of the government promise to upgrade the National Sports Stadium in time for the return of the 2026 World Cup Qualifiers.

Surely, after watching Afcon 2023 to its conclusion, we are convinced that the Warriors are far much better than most of the African teams and with better organisation, we can win the Nations Cup or even qualify for the expanded World Cup.

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