DURBAN – It is very strange that the South African Football Association (Safa) took so long to make a decision as to who will lead the national Under-23 team in the qualifiers for the Olympic Games.
The Confederation of African Football (Caf) announced a long time ago that the SA Under-23s would square off against Angola in the first round of the 2020 Olympics qualifiers.
Yesterday when The Mercury phoned acting Safa CEO Russell Paul, he said they do have the coach and they are finalising the paperwork and will then make an official announcement.
The paperwork should have been finalised long ago. The new coach should have been offered more time to profile the opponents and search for the players who will represent the nation in the qualifiers.
I don’t understand why Safa have left it so late when we had more time. Sometimes we like to put ourselves under unnecessary pressure. This should have been sorted out a long time ago. I don’t see the logic in leaving it so late.
The new coach will have four weeks to profile Angola and assemble his squad. With such a short space of time before the clash against Angola, appointing Thabo Senong makes sense to me.
Senong has been in Safa’s structure for a while and has been very consistent with the SA Under-20s. He recently qualified for the World Cup that will be held in Poland in June. It was the second time that Senong has secured a place in the World Cup for Amajita.
The team that qualified for the Under-20 World Cup should be the same team that must play against Angola.
They have the momentum with them and this will be a great opportunity for them to prepare for the World Cup.
It will be even better if they can sweep past Angola and win the next round to qualify for the Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt later this year.
I believe they can do it. They have been playing together for a while and they understand the style of play of coach Senong.
One of the advantages about this year’s qualifiers for the Olympics is that they will be played on Fifa dates, which will give us an opportunity to select our best team.
I’m chuffed about the fact that our junior national teams are qualifying for major tournaments. The future of Bafana Bafana is bright.
When Bafana were doing wonders back in the day, our junior national team was also doing well. In 1997, our junior national team qualified for the World Cup in Malaysia and then we had Bafana participating in their maiden World Cup in France in 1998.
In 2000, the SA Under-23 team booked themselves a place in the Olympics in Sydney, Australia.
So it seems that good times are ahead for South African football.