In an alarming twist of fate, Bafana Bafana should take a leaf from the book of junior national teams as well as their women counterparts, Banyana Banyana.
Bafana are the only national football side that haven’t qualified for a major tournament this year, while the under-17 boys are on the verge of qualifying for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations at the Cosafa Youth tournament.
The junior and women national teams are South African football’s shining lights – showing the senior national team how it is done.
But it’s perhaps still too early to celebrate the successes that are in line with SAFA’s Vision 2022. The core part of the vision is to see all SAFA national teams qualifying for major tournaments.
“One of the things that we have to do is not to wish for success at senior level when we have no success at junior level. You cannot play in the world cup on regular basis at senior level if none of your junior teams qualify and they don’t even play,” says SAFA president, Danny Jordaan.
Under the guidance of former Banyana Banyana captain, Simphiwe Dludlu, the national under-17 girls team have qualified for this year’s World Cup in Uruguay in November.
“Playing the BRICS tournament that we just came from was a revelation to our girls to see that the standard is higher than what we are used to. We might have qualified but the standard is different. On the other side it was quite heart-warming to see that we are not too far off.”
Both Banyana Banyana and the men’s under-20 team, Amajita, have qualified for their Africa Cup of Nations tournaments. Those in charge are praising the synergy at national level.
“We took the team back to the technical owners because Thabo Senong cannot do it alone. We looked at what is the challenge with South African teams. One thing I picked up is that the quality is improving, we have the clubs and structures,” says Amajita coach, Thabo Senong.
“The interaction, we were even able to call up one of coach Shorty’s players to our last camp. It shows that we are communicating along the way. The most important thing, as coach Shorty said, is to celebrate each other,” says Banyana Coach, Desiree Ellis.
They all concur that these youngsters need to be groomed and nurtured for senior national team duties in future.