Bafana poised to be revamped for 2010

Thozi Manyisana

Thozi Manyisana

The government and the South African Football Association are working on a "secret strategy" to revamp the ailing Bafana Bafana squad.

This was revealed by Sports and Recreation Minister Makhenkesi Stofile in his address to the Eastern Cape legislature in Bisho on Monday about the country's readiness to host the prestigious Fifa World Cup 2010.

Stofile said Safa has agreed to let the government help them strengthen the squad, but he refused to divulge the plans, saying they were a "secret strategy".

"We cannot afford to have a team that will exit in the first round. We are working on a strategy to revamp the squad but I am not free to divulge the details," said Stofile

"Bafana are not ready for 2010 and we are worried, but I'm positive that we will have a good squad by 2010".

Stofile said each province should produce strong squads because government is "very serious" about having good national teams across all sporting codes.

The minister was supported by MPLs from all political parties.

Stofile said he heard last week that Australia had written to Fifa saying they were ready to host the tournament if South Africa failed, but Fifa has faith in the country. He said one could "draw a conclusion that they are driven by Afro-pessimism and racism".

He said there was no empirical decision that led people to believe the country was not ready to host the 2010 World Cup.

"We are on track [and] I am emphasising this - we are ready," Stofile said to loud applause.

He boasted that South Africa was "in many ways ahead" of the Fifa schedule in preparing for the event.

United Independent Front MPL Mabandla Gogo - whose disagreements with Stofile, even in Stofile's days as the premier, are well documented - came out in support of Stofile and dismissed claims South Africa was not ready.

"While I do not usually agree with what the government says, we are ready to host the World Cup," said Gogo.