Low soccer levels causing worries

DECLINING STANDARDS: Coach Mandla Mazibuko. Pic. Antonio Muchave. 28/01/05. © Sowetan.
DECLINING STANDARDS: Coach Mandla Mazibuko. Pic. Antonio Muchave. 28/01/05. © Sowetan.

Meshack Khotha

Meshack Khotha

The declining standard of football in South Africa continues to be of great concern.

This follows the unimpressive performance by nine provincial squads who participated in the Safa Under-17 Youth Challenge in Vaal last week.

The view was endorsed by several coaches who attended the tournament, won by KwaZulu-Natal with a close 3-2 victory over Free State in the final.

The standard of play was poor and unless something is done to tackle development in all provinces the game will not improve.

Mandla Mazibuko, Safa-Transnet School of Excellence head coach, said the soccer governing body was facing a huge challenge in improving the standard of football.

"Provinces need to produce players of quality and not quantity. It requires all stakeholders to work out on this problem facing the country," said Mazibuko.

Safa's recently appointed Under-17 national coach, Tebogo "Tebza Ngwana" Moloi, and Kaizer Chiefs development mentor Johannes "Ryder" Mofokeng also felt that the standard of soccer was at a low ebb.

"There is no continuity in the development of football in the entire 52 regions of Safa.

"This problem could perhaps be solved if regional leagues are established in different categories. That will keep the level of performance high," said Moloi.

However, Mofokeng suggested: "If regions can have development leagues at the local association level, ranging from the Under-12 upwards, there could be light at the end of the tunnel.

"They (players) will be playing regularly and by the time they reach higher levels they will be quality players.

"At the end, there won't be problems in selecting squads for the regional, provincial and national sides in future."

Sasfa coach Junior Bhengu, who works for Orlando Pirates as a development mentor, said the standard of development soccer was of great concern.

His sentiments were echoed by Solly Luvhengo, SuperSport United's development coach, and Sthembiso Ntuli from KwaZulu-Natal.

Meanwhile, teams complained bitterly about Safa's arrangements regarding accommodation.

On Thursday, four teams including KwaZulu-Natal, Sasfa, North West and Free State and the media, were all asked to check out of their hotel in the afternoon, but were made to wait for four hours outside in the hotel parking area.

"We got a raw deal from Safa and their action affected the players," said KwaZulu-Natal coach Ntuli.