Two contrasting results and nations, but what can Bafana Bafana learn from Confederations Cup champions Germany? MARSHALL GOUTS explores.
Reigning champions South Africa crashed out of the Cosafa Cup, losing 1-0 to Tanzania, a team that they’ve never conceded defeat to before. Stuart Baxter made a bold move by handing 10 players their debuts in the loss to the largely-unknown Taifa Stars.
Yes, the host-nation played with a considerably weakened squad that defeated Nigeria 2-0 away from home under a month ago in an Africa Cup of Nations Qualifier, but can any positives be taken away from the loss?
The Cosafa Cup is traditionally a tournament used to give younger and/or players from lesser known leagues the opportunity to ply their trade for their country, with the hope of unearthing players that are equipped to don the national team jersey.
Former Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena questioned Baxter’s decision to take a squad with an average age of 22.5 years old to the tournament, saying that the Scotsman should have used the national U17 team instead.
In hindsight, we can all agree with ‘Mbazo’s sentiments, however had Baxter decided to deploy the Amajimbos side, it would have caused an uproar – good or bad.
The ever-popular notion of ‘building for the future’ that exists within our football association needs to actually be defined, implemented and monitored across all developmental platforms.
Lessons can be learnt from dominant football nation Germany, following their maiden Confederations Cup triumph over Chile, adding to their recent acqusitions – the Euro U21 trophy and the World Cup.
What many people do not know is that Die Mannschaft weren’t always the formidable force to be reckoned with and it took a dismal Euro 2000 campaign, which culminated in restrategising the way forward with a complete overhaul of youth football.
The task was by no means an easy one, nor was it an overnight success and as former sporting director Robin Dutt so aptly said in 2000: ‘We are at the top level and it’s difficult to go above that. If we are in the year 2000 and we are at the bottom it is OK. But nobody sees anything wrong here.’
Fast forward almost two decades later, the investment of wide-travelled research, and the implementation of improving homegrown talent has paid off and it is now evident that Germany has an abundance of footballing talent.
The DFB created a talent identification programme in 2003 which covers almost 400 areas in Germany, serving for youths aged eight to 14 under the watchful eye of more than 1,000 Uefa B license holding coaches.
Germany set about upgrading their footballing associations’ infrastructure, paying particular attention to upgrading facilities in addition to hiring and up-skilling coaches.
The biggest concern for Bafana and Baxter is the need to address the issues that need improvement immediately like our poor goal-scoring record, while still planning for the future and keeping an eye on unearthed talents.
Wouldn’t it be great if all role-players in South African football could come together and plot the way forward, much like Germany did in 2000 and restrategise the way forward so that we are all on the same page regarding expectations and reality?
Lastly, not forgetting the attempt to reclaim our past glory on the international stage as Bafana Bafana.
It will take time, but it can be done.
Follow on Twitter @MarshallGouts