Bafana Bafana:Our players are just not good enough

I want to repeat the title of this article. Our players are just not good enough and it’s about time they were told so and time they admitted it. I was talking to a colleague with whom I collaborate on matters pertaining to soccer and I suggested that we have a skills test to be conducted among the PSL players. His response was that they would refuse to participate because the test would reveal their limitations and inadequacies.

Every time we have a poor performance from Bafana Bafana, the post match interview with the players produces stock responses. The most popular is, “We didn’t play well this time. We’ll have to perform in the return leg.” When last has Bafana Bafana played well? I strain my memory to recall the occasion.

You see, if our players accept that they are not good enough, they may do something about it. But for as long as they think that they are good enough, they are going to sit back and believe that what they do at the regular training sessions is good enough to get them by.

Our players are comparable to a boxer who gets knocked out in the first round each time he fights. After the fight he says that he did not fight well, but things will be different the next time. When the next time comes he gets knocked out again.

Our players are not good enough because they do not work hard enough at their game. How many of them stay after regular training to work on their personal skills? I believe that there are very few who do so. If there are, then they are doing the wrong things, because it certainly does not show in their performances.

To get to the top you have got to be prepared to work hard, to put in the extra hours and only then will the results show. I remember in the sixties there was a winger with the surname Robertson, I think, who played for Tottenham Hotspur. He used to stay after practice each day and cross the ball fifty times.

Do you think that the dead-ball specialists get up one morning and decide, “Today I am going to get the ball to bend and dip under the crossbar if we get a free-kick outside the box,” without having practised the skill at all? No on your life! The dead-ball specialists spend hours and hours developing, honing and perfecting their skills. To illustrate my point, I want to quote, at length, from an article by Peter Sanderson, that appeared on the UEFA website. The article is entitled, “Pirlo the pass master.” For the ignorant, Andrea Pirlo is the midfield general of A C Milan and Italy.

“Crossbar Challenge

What followed will live with me for the rest of my life. The hour we’d been promised had long since passed but Pirlo seemed in no rush to go. If you have ever seen the advert where Ronaldinho thumps five consecutive shots against the crossbar and refused to believe it was possible then read on. Pirlo turned to me and asked: “Reckon I can hit the bar from here?” “No,” I replied. It seemed a fair guess as he was fully 35 metres out. Before I had [a] chance to change my mind he had sent a thunderous shot crashing against the bar. He turned to me and said: “Reckon I can do it again?” “No,” I replied. Boom, crash. Two out of two. The third time he didn’t bother asking yet incredibly the ball homed in on the crossbar like an Exocet missile. As the fourth ball pinged against the crossbar and back to his feet everyone grew silent in awe and he made sure he kept things that way by hitting the bar a fifth time. He left the pitch with a wry smile, to a standing ovation from everyone who had witnessed it. Better still, UEFA Training Ground got it all on camera.”

When one of our players is able to produce skill of similar complexity, I’ll be the first to applaud, but I suppose that it will never happen.

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