South African Football Association (Safa) president Danny Jordaan has said the message of the 2018 World Cup was that younger‚ rejuvenated teams succeed‚ and that he wants to see an emphasis on youth in Bafana Bafana.
Jordaan was speaking this week at a press conference called by Safa to celebrate the qualification of various junior and women’s national teams to major tournaments.
These included the SA Under-20 men’s Amajita team for the Caf Africa U-20 Cup of Nations‚ Banyana Banyana for the Ghana 2018 Africa Cup of Nations‚ and the SA U-17 women for their youth World Cup.
Jordaan was asked about words he had spoken in 2013‚ when‚ after Shakes Mashaba had won that year’s Cosafa U-20 Cup in Lesotho‚ the Safa president spoke about the journey to the Russia 2018 World Cup.
Such a journey never materialised‚ and Jordaan was asked why‚ even with junior national team success‚ things should be any different now for Bafana as they strive to reach the next World Cup in Qatar in 2022.
“I think‚ if you look at this World Cup [in Russia]‚ if you first look at the teams who failed to qualify – Italy were the world champions‚ Netherlands‚ Ghana failed to qualify. Why?
“Germany went to Russia essentially with the team that won the World Cup in Brazil [in 2014]‚ and dropped out in the first round.
“Spain went with some of the team who won the World Cup in 2010‚ and dropped out. Why?
“It is the transition of those teams. Those who rejuvenated their teams‚ who brought in young players [were successful]. The player most celebrated was Kylian Mbappe [of winners France]‚ who is 19.
“So it’s no point us celebrating the youth‚ and when Bafana plays – and I’ve just looked at our players in Bafana‚ and I’m not going to criticise the coaches – but must we still have 60% of the players 32‚ 34 or 35‚ building towards 2022‚ four years later.
“In the World Cup in Russia‚ those who took the younger generation of players succeeded. Those who came with players who had already done well in the World Cups in 2010 and 2014 failed. So it’s a lesson for us.
“And I just looked at the players who went to the Cosafa Cup [in June]‚ and look at the players who came through our U17s and U20s.
“There is Reeve Frosler‚ he’s not a regular in our team. Rivaldo [Coetzee] has been injured‚ Bongani Zungu is not a regular‚ Keagan Dolly is not a regular‚ Kamohelo Mokotjo is there – he’s 26.
“Then there is Phakamani Mahlambi‚ he’s 20‚ Teboho Mokoena 21‚ Percy Tau 21 ‚ Lebo Mothiba 22‚ Lyle Foster 17‚ Luther Singh 20‚ Wiseman Meyiwa 18.
“Are we going to see these players as part of building towards 2022 or are we going to bring back [older players]?”
The observation seemed to be a message sent to Bafana coach Stuart Baxter‚ who‚ while he has opted for a youth policy in the wake of last year’s World Cup qualification failure‚ called up such veterans as Morgan Gould (35) and Siphiwe Tshabalala (33) in that campaign.