Wednesday, 5 March 2014

GORDON OUT! A night of record-breaking shame at Soccer City as Brazil give Bafana FIVE

THREE AND EASY: Neymar produced a hat-trick in Brazil's 5-0 win

IT was a night to forget. The shame of Soccer City. A night when South African football fans were praying for a bit of load-shedding long before the end of Brazil’s record 5-0 thrashing of Bafana Bafana.

There are excuses. Starting with the mediocre Thabo Nthethe and making him captain for the night was just one strand in the complicated mess that is South African football. Siyanda Xulu came on for an injured Bongani Khumalo but was clearly demotivated by his inxplicable relegation to the bench.

This wasn’t a defence. It was a shambles. Thabo Matlaba was AWFUL. Neymar must have thought he was playing against a pub team.

Everywhere we look, youngsters are passed over for veterans who have achieved little in the national shirt. And we had Andile Jali, Dean Furman, Khumalo and Tokelo Rantie starting for their country when they are struggling to get a game in the lower reaches of European football.

Yes, we must work on development. Yes we must find talent. But to pick THIS side on THIS night? No Oupa Manyisa when he dominates the PSL? Then bring him on at right wing? Ridiculous. We have no international scout to confirm internet rumours about our foreign-based players. We have no answers to the rampant favouritism which has dogged so many Bafana coaches.

It was awful. Brazil barely had to raise a sweat. Missed passes, poor control, general confusion. It was all there. Sports Minister Fikile "Bunch of Losers" Mbalula backtracked from his CHAN rant said: “We have good talent, we can build a formidable team. Of course the score was huge, but we gauged ourselves against the best.”

But he was as embarrassed as the rest of us, sitting next to President Jacob Zuma and watching a team pay tribute to the late, great Nelson Mandela with a performance of pure ineptitude.

The ankle injury suffered by goalkeeper and regular captain Itumeleng Khune had impact too, though it’s hard to blame SuperSport United goalkeeper Ronwen Williams for a display which saw Oscar score the opening goal – in a week of Oscarisms – and Neymar register a dynamic hat-trick.

Coach Gordon Igesund, already on his last legs and without a contract after the World Cup which he failed to qualify for, said: “We played against a very, very good team. It wasn’t a bad performance. But they were just so much better than us.

“Very, very clinical. Neymar was outstanding. We had a couple of young players out on the park who will learn a lot from this.

“I thought 5-0 was a bit tough. We tried to make a game of it, but you can take nothing away from Brazil, they are favourites to win the World Cup.”

Let’s for something a bit meatier. Mark Fish, from the more successful 90s, said afterwards: “This shows us where we are with our football. We can’t control simple passes, so how can we expect to play against teams like Brazil? It was a very poor performance.”

Fellow legend Doc Khumalo, also analysing for SuperSport, admitted: “We saw how the modern game was played. Brazil didn’t want us to breathe in our own back yard. We have to do things how other countries do it, the modern way.”

Many will talk about development and a general lack of talent in the coming days. And we all know Brazil, though only ranked ninth in the world, are quite a team, having won the Confederations Cup.

Bafana's much-hyped victory over world No1 Spain was simply an aberration. The Samba Boys were here to prepare seriously for a home World Cup… La Rojas were simply returning to the site of their 2010 World Cup win, on a bit of a holiday.

But we were fooled by that result, perhaps the only memorable result Igesund has produced in his torrid two-year reign, though the 3-0 win over CAR in Cameroon was fun until Ethiopia ruined everything.

Truth is, Igesund failed to achieve his mandate at AFCON, missing out on penalties on the semi-finals at home last year. He crashed out of the World Cup before the play-offs, losing to Ethiopia. And as I have said so often, CHAN earlier this year was simply embarrassing coming on top of friendly failures against Zambia, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

Who knows what SAFA president Danny Jordaan and his Technical Committee will make of this defeat, which shatters by two goals the record 3-0 home defeat suffered by Bafana against Uruguay during the 2010 World Cup?

Former Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, now Brazil’s technical coach, was far too kind: “Bafana were not that bad. Put your heads up, you did your best.” Nonsense.

But in truth, he has to be nice having helped South Africa become the first World Cup hosts to fall at the first hurdle four years ago. And he got paid quite a lot for the privilege.

The immediate problem is Igesund, with his curious selection processes, lack of an international scouting network and obvious/oblivious favouritism of certain players.

He must go. He should have gone immediately after this record-breaking embarrassment, he should have gone after CHAN. But he won’t. He has a couple of months left to serve. SAFA must get rid of him NOW. Pay him off. Those reports about Carlos Queiros returning to Bafana after he’s taken Iran to Brazil must be worth following up.

It’s time to start again. The new-fangled R40m ABC Motsepe League (the revamped third division) will help, as will SAFA’s “Vision 2022” development program backed by that near-mythical FIFA Legacy Fund. Let Shakes Mashaba, Clive Barker or somebody similar take Bafana through the pre-World Cup friendlies against Australia and Iran… things can’t get any worse.

And let Queiroz make a new start in August with the qualifiers for AFCON 2015 in Morocco. After what we saw at Soccer City, there is no choice. As Mbalula said so recently: We cannot wake up to this again.

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