Five important dates to look out for in SA football in 2019
It will be only nine days into the year that South African football faces its most significant date for 2019 that could ensure a bumper year for the country’s favourite pastime.
Here are the five important dates to look out for in SA football in 2019:
The meeting of the Confederation of African Football’s executive committee in Dakar will determine whether South Africa gets to host the African Nations Cup finals‚ usurping fellow emergency candidates Egypt and replacing Cameroon‚ who were stripped late last year of the right to host the event.
Should Mzansi proved the preferred candidates‚ it could serve as a major boost for the domestic game‚ limping along over the last year as the impact of failure at national team level turns spectators away.
As much as the Premier Soccer League and South African Football Association seem to pull in different directions‚ the professional club game is dependent on a successful national team.
When Bafana are doing well there is a buoyant optimism among footballing punters; these days‚ after years in the doldrums‚ the domestic game feels like it is limping along on the back of blundering Bafana.
But the prospect of hosting the Nations Cup will undoubtedly perk the game up; boosting the players‚ reviving wider interest and will hopefully culminating in the much needed victory at continental level that the South African game is desparately crying out for.
Given Bafana Bafana’s current form‚ that wish might be a tad optimistic but with home advantage there is a chance to emulate the class of 1996.
Should Egypt be preferred to South Africa‚ then the next most important date will come when Bafana Bafana go to neutral Egypt or Tunisia to play Libya in the last their Nations Cup group qualifiers.
An away defeat will knock Bafana out of the tournament and make them the first country to beat Nigeria away in a group match and still not qualify. It will surely end the second tenure of Stuart Baxter in charge of the national side and keep in flux the team who have the ability to be cruising the highway of success but are struggling to get out of first gear.
Plus‚ it has a negative effect on the PSL.
The second leg of the Caf Champions League finals. For the first time South Africa have two clubs in the group stage of the competition and therefore the chance for an all-Mzansi final between Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates. It is a long road ahead but in the last five years both clubs have navigated their way through the group phase‚ quarterfinals and semis and onto the finals‚ so they are aware of what it takes to get to there.
The next Soweto derby offers Pirates the chance to set a record of 12 unbeaten games against Kaizer Chiefs. If they do so‚ not only will they continue to enjoy bragging rights‚ but they will inflict another blow to a brand that looks to be haemorrhaging. Crowds for Chiefs’ home games are abysmal in a reflection of their lack of success and more blows to the psyche of their supporters will just add to the malaise.
The exact date has yet to be set but the draw for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers are scheduled for mid-year in Qatar. Africa has again been allocated five places for what will be the last time there is a 32-team final tournament. South Africa need to boost their world ranking to get a seeding‚ but all countries are likely to have to first play a preliminary tie before moving onto the group stages. Bafana have been to three World Cups‚ but the last was in 2010.
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