the skill factor

Similarities with winning styles

Similarities with winning styles

One thing that should have been acknowledged is the similarity between the physical and football specific traits of South African players and the profile of players from South America and other regions that have produced the most successful playing styles in the history of football. Every study and analysis can prove it.

It is amazing to realise that the top four nations in the current Fifa rankings, Argentina, Brazil, Italy and Spain, the champion nation of Africa, Egypt, as well as 10 out of 16 Europe's best clubs competing in the Uefa Champions League, share features of a game concept and style at which South Africa could excel too.

This winning style gives top priority to the skill factor; it is uncompromising on controlling play through quick or patient ball possession and incorporates respect for outstanding individuality.

It is universally termed "The Latin style". A similar biosocial profile of those players who today made this style the best in the world is commonly found in southern Africa.

Mostly children in casual, street and township football exhibit it. It reinforces the idea that all those leading attributes of Brazilian, Argentinian, Italian, and so on football and more could have been instilled in local football were it not for the lengthy invasion of highly contrasting mentalities and foreign interest in South African football.

The style of the past

The football philosophy that clashed with the nature of South African players, culture and traditions, later led to crushing the possibility of developing a successful style of play.

I am referring to the style dominated by limited skill used for a "long ball" approach in a direct and physical fashion. In football literature it is called "The Anglo-Saxon style", with "The English style" a close variation.

In the past this concept was occasionally successful, particularly for the UK and northern European countries, which expanded and supported it in some African countries, including South Africa, through postcolonial ties.

The obvious hitch here is that the style characteristics, as exposed by a completely different type of European players, are in visible contrast to the nature of South African players and their game environment.

Consequently, the imposed requirements of the imported style resulted in exposing the weaker side of players' nature (physical limitations) instead of enhancing their football specific abilities.

Those calls for bigger players to be recruited by the PSL clubs and the complaints about players' lack of power and aggression in local matches provides an indication of the alien mentality of "physical football" rather than skill.

The package of local players' qualities mentioned earlier is not considered and the effect of this anomaly is an increasing number of dismal performances and casualties among coaches. By not playing to the strengths of the players, football cannot progress and teams will only succeed accidentally.

Some still cannot see it!

What is even more disturbing is that South African football is not yet aware that in England processes are now in place to completely overhaul the football mentality and style of play that has been based on physical dominance and a direct approach done with limited skill and no creativity.

Carlos Alberto Parreira is the latest significant addition to the small group of local coaches who stress the need for immediate changes in the mentality of local football.

The similarity of Parreira's views with the conclusions of other few local coaches is not coincidental. All the studies on the prerequisites for high performance in football produce identical findings.

That conclusion says the level of performance is determined by the degree at which the strengths of the players have been optimised.

It took Parreira just a few months to acknowledge that the national team can become internationally competitive if using short passing for ball possession.. To be continued.