Men's national team far less motivated than women's team

SA must stop encouraging Bafana mediocrity

Mpho Koka Journalist
Bafana Bafana will not be part of the Afcon finals after failing to qualify.
Bafana Bafana will not be part of the Afcon finals after failing to qualify.
Image: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

While South Africans are still mourning Bafana Bafana’s failure to qualify for next year’s Africa Cup Of Nations and contemplating who will replace the sacked Molefi Ntseki as head coach, there is an issue that has been bothering me for some time now.

When Bafana play their Afcon and Fifa World Cup qualifiers, we give them the mandate that they should just qualify for the tournament. We are merely satisfied with the team qualifying for these soccer showpieces. We set the bar so low for our national senior men’s soccer team that we do not require them to  compete strongly in these competitions. Qualification is enough for us! 

As a football-loving nation we should stop celebrating qualification for a tournament and start expecting more from them. We should call on S A to not just qualify but to compete at these tournaments and fight tooth-and-nail to advance at least to the last four of the Afcon and knockout stages of the World Cup.

When one looks at recent performances of Bafana and Banyana Banyana at their respective continental tournaments, it is evident that Banyana are  going there on a mission to contest and win the whole thing, unlike their male counterparts who are content with qualification.

In the past seven Africa Women Cup of Nations, Banyana have reached the semifinals every time, being runners-up three times while Bafana did not qualify for four of the past seven Afcons, reached the quarterfinals on two occasions and were knocked out in the group stages in the other one.

It goes without saying that SA’s national women’s football team does not go to a tournament just to make up the numbers. They go there with one mindset  — and that is to win.

It should be nations like Comoros, whose population is 150,000 less than that of Soweto, and not SA, which should be over the moon and jumping over tables when they qualify for Afcon, like they did when they made it to Cameroon 2021, a first in their footballing history.

It is high time South Africans stop celebrating Bafana’s mediocrity in simply qualifying and start challenging them to redouble their efforts and go to future Afcons with the aim of competing and winning the ultimate prize.

Here are the performances of both of the nation’s senior football teams in their past seven Africa Cup of Nations:

Bafana Bafana                                                          

2010: Did not qualify

2012: Did not qualify

2013: Quarterfinals

2015: Group stages

2017: Did not qualify

2019: Quarterfinals

2021: Did not qualify

Banyana Banyana

2006: Third place

2008: Runners-up

2010: Third place

2012  Runners-up

2014: Fourth place

2016: Fourth place

2018: Runners-up