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Last Updated: Saturday, 7 February, 2004, 11:45 GMT
SA's football decline

By Mohammed Allie
BBC Sport, Tunisia

South Africa's Andre Arendse
Andre Arendse is upset with South Africa's footballing decline

Since winning the African Cup of Nations at their first attempt on home soil in 1996, South Africa's fortunes have been on a steady but gradual decline.

Their lowest point so far has been this year's failure to reach the quarter-finals, which is the first time this has happened in Bafana Bafana's five Nations Cup appearances.

After winning silver and bronze in 1998 and 2000 respectively, South Africa bowed out in the quarter-finals in 2002 and completed the downward spiral this time around.

If the sequence continues, the next reverse step on the ladder is finishing last in their group or, even worse, failing to qualify!

The gradual slide of the team is a cause for concern, especially for those who have seen the team develop from the depths of receiving 4-0 hidings from Nigeria and Zimbabwe upon readmission to Fifa in 1992 to the summit of winning the 1996 Nations Cup and qualifying for the 1998 World Cup.

"We have fallen behind the pace a great deal," said goalkeeper Andre Arendse, who won his 67th cap against Morocco and was also a member of the Nations Cup winning team.

Our first priority has to be the appointment of a coach with a long-term plan
Roger de Sa

"We've got to look at the long term and get a coach who can take us into the future. The only way forward is to learn to stick with one coach.

"We can't keep starting from scratch," the 36-year-old goalkeeper added.

South Africa have employed 10 coaches in the past eleven years.

Three of those coaches - namely, Clive Barker, who led the side to the 1996 title, Mozambique-born Carlos Quieroz and Ephraim 'Shakes' Mashaba - have all been sacked on the eve of major tournaments.

Irvin Khoza former vice-president of Safa
Irvin Khoza has resigned from the South Africa Football Association

The first casualty of Bafana Bafana's failure in Tunisia is Irvin Khoza, and the former vice-president of the South African Football Association (Safa) resigned from his post saying he was tired of being made a scapegoat for the team's failure.

Former Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Roger de Sa, who was called up at the last minute to assist April 'Styles' Phumo in Tunisia, says the early exit and 4-0 defeat to Nigeria could be a blessing in disguise.

"It's a nice wake-up call to show how far we are behind countries like Cameroon, Senegal and Nigeria," he said.

"I don't think we've learnt from our past mistakes - hopefully this time we will. It was unfair on Styles to have come to Tunisia with a team that he didn't choose.

"We have to realise that the countries that have performed well at this tournament are the ones that have stable teams."

"Our first priority has to be the appointment of a coach with a long-term plan.

"We also have to ensure the under-23 team qualifies for the Olympics in Greece which will be a tough task.

"We have to appoint someone who understands South African football and someone who can develop a relationship with the overseas-based players," De Sa believes.

The country's Minister of Sport, Ngconde Balfour, has already called for a meeting with Safa to discuss the future of the country's football.




SEE ALSO
Morocco rise again
06 Feb 04  |  African
Safa vice-president quits
03 Feb 04  |  African
Nigeria see off South Africa
02 Feb 04  |  African
South Africa see off Benin
27 Jan 04  |  African



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