We need to act now to stop the rot in soccer

Almost a year ago Danny Jordaan registered concern at why some people, including South Africans, had doubts that we would be ready to host a successful 2010 Fifa World Cup.

Almost a year ago Danny Jordaan registered concern at why some people, including South Africans, had doubts that we would be ready to host a successful 2010 Fifa World Cup.

Jordaan, the CEO of the Local Organising Committee, always felt the fact that Fifa gave our bid the nod was proof enough of our capabilities as a country to host the event.

For Jordaan, the question that should have been asked was: "Will South Africa be able to produce a world-class team in 2010 or not?"

Few people bothered to give this matter any thought.

To make matters worse, indications are that even the bosses at Safa House don't seem to think this is an issue.

Yet recent pathetic performances by our national sides confirm Jordaan's fears.

Not many people consider our failure to be represented in both continental and world championships involving the under-17s, under-20s and the under-23s as a danger sign.

I fully agree with those that feel we need to act now, at the risk of being misunderstood and thus labelled alarmists.

For starters, I would like to urge the same Jordaan to start coming up with suggestions that he must urgently present to Safa.

No doubt, Jordaan's mandate is chiefly to see to it that the LOC, under chairman Irvin Khoza, makes sure that it delivers a world-class World Cup.

Jordaan, himself a former footballer and a well-travelled person, should be well aware that things are not going well at home where it matters most, the field of play.

Our coaches at junior level don't seem to work with a clear mind as to what the nation expects from them.

The other day, the under-20 national coach, Serame Letsoaka, bemoaned the fact that more often than not, his team is flooded with half-baked players from some academies.

Explaining, Letsoaka said some coaches at these soccer nurseries seem to ignore teaching kids important basics as they force them to "play to win at all costs".

That sounds scary. But the truth is that Letsoaka is spot on, considering that astute coach Ted Dumitru raised similar concerns.

Much as some of us are optimistic that Bafana Bafana will reach the knockout stages of the 2010 World Cup finals, we however know that prayers alone will not help. It is about time that Safa treats this matter as one of national interest.

To remedy the situation we will need all the help we can summon from our experts, including the shrewd Jomo Sono.

We therefore cannot watch and fold our arms when Sepp Blatter, Fifa's president, snatches Sono from under our noses.

You will recall that Sono was invited to serve in the Fifa technical and development committee last week.

And I am worried that chances are that some of our future opponents could be the ones that benefit from one of our own sons whom we seem not to recognise as a great asset.

To make matters worse, Safa does not have a technical adviser that we know of. Small wonder we have this confusion reigning among our national teams.

Club coaches in the professional and semi-professional leagues also don't seem to be as united as they are supposed to be.

One week we see great football from some of the Premier Soccer League sides and another we see some technically inferior stuff.

Back to Jordaan, how about including the name of Sono in your suggestion list to Safa.

Other ex-professionals with credentials need to be seen to be part of the solution, now!

The Bafana Bafana mentor, Carlos Alberto Parreira, must also be part of what is happening at our junior teams.

As for Sono, if approached, he should put country first and forget about his differences with certain individuals in the hierarchy.

As you know, Matsilele, charity begins at home.

l Before we part, let me salute both Sono and Irvin Khoza (Fifa's strategic committee member) for their appointments in the world body's committees in the past two weeks.

Likewise, Sports Indaba says "halala" to Patrice Motsepe's Brazilians for winning the SAA Supa 8 trophy.