It’s great to have a national team that’s active, but if the objective is not to improve, it makes the exercise fruitless. Which then leave us with the question: Was it a good idea to have Bafana play friendly matches against Angola and Mozambique before the World Cup kicked off? Former Orlando Pirates goalkeeper Brighton Mhlongo sees it as a wasted tick box exercise.
Our football administrators are known to take decisions that are unique, but the scheduling of this past week’s Bafana games has to be top of the list. In an interview with the former Orlando Pirates goalkeeper, Brighton Mhlongo spoke to Thisisfootball.Africa to discuss the thought process behind the friendly matches, the benefit [if any] and the timing thereof.
“I feel like the fixtures were scheduled to tick boxes for the international calendar. Coming from a hectic first half of the season [DSTV Premiership], it would have made more sense to play against one big [highly ranked] international team. Play an Italy that’s not going to the World Cup, or get a team playing in the tournament. Once that happens, then I would say we are building on something.”
“Considering that we have just played the COSAFA tournament, scheduling fixtures that involve opponents in our region will not improve us. We need to get teams that will help us qualify and challenge for the AFCON.”
Perhaps scheduling a fixture against the Azzurris might be a tough ask, but is it not time we start making decisions with the bigger end goal in mind? For our football to grow, should we not make moves that are intentional in helping us develop?
“The results are coming, but they are coming against teams that are also struggling to make the AFCON. To get a good measure of our strength we have to get teams that would show us where we are getting it wrong,” Mhlongo urges.
“Get games against teams that are challenging for the continental showpiece, and then we will make it easier to compete in the qualifiers. Teams like Egypt, Ivory Coast and Nigeria would be ideal to help us push a level up.” Mhlongo concluded.
Whether we agree with the former goal minder’s views or not, is a different topic, but we cannot deny the need to introspect. The standard of our football has dropped significantly, and it appears as though as a nation we have accepted where we are. It’s as if we have a reached a point of no return. We find ourselves at a crossroads. Do we play matches to boost our egos, or should we invest in a couple of losses, in the quest to regain the greatness we once possessed?