Hat tip - Ingrid
Sy Lerman says vuvuzelas don't win soccer matches, players do
JOHANNESBURG - Vuvuzelas, as Bafana Bafana have now cruelly discovered, don't win soccer matches.
Players win soccer games.
And when players of lesser experience and know-how are thrown into the deep end of a challenging World Cup cauldron - as Bafana Bafana were in the 3-0 demolition by Uruguay at a shell-shocked, iced-up Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Wednesday night - without the right kind of match conditioning and preparation it should come as no surprise when they end up sinking into an abyss of despair and failure.
Ranked 83rd in the world, the initial gnawing and disturbing realisation that South Africa might well become the first host nation of a World Cup in 80 years not to progress beyond the first round, emerged when the draw last December placed them in a first-round group that included the now ninth-ranked France, 16th-ranked Uruguay and 17th-rated Mexico.
So what happened after this cruel and unexpected stroke of fate had befallen them? Bafana ignored the obvious and urgent objective to acclimitise themselves to the kind of opposition they were destined to face in the World Cup and proceded to pump up a false level of security, optimism and confidence by going through 13 unbeaten matches against teams that were mainly mediocre and worse.
None of the sides Bafana faced in this misconstructed build-up period measured up to France, Uruguay and Mexico - and so it was almost inevitable the old maxim that you reap what you sow would come into play.
As any sportsman will tell you, when you step up a level without suitable preparation you are simply looking for trouble and destined to flounder.
Yet, for all this, the mood after the opening 1-1 draw against a Mexican side that followed well the old Muhammad Ali maxim of "floating like a butterfly", but possessed none of the great man's follow-up assertion to "sting like a bee" was epitomised by the headline "We have nothing to fear from Uruguay."
So who to blame for Bafana preparing for the World Cup against the likes of hastily-assembled Thailand and Guatamala?
Well the South African Football Association (Safa) - both the present regime and that, which preceded them in what was effectively a coup last year - must jointly take the lion's share of the blame.
An adequate programme of build-up games should have been implemented for Bafana from the moment that South Africa were awarded the historic right of becoming the first African nation to stage the World Cup.
But seasoned coach Carlos Alberto Parreira is not blameless either, despite his constant refrain of looking for tougher matches.
Parreira has been around for a long time during his twin-pronged tenure with Bafana and he too should have looked ahead.
Instead, it seemed, he became sucked in by the spreading delusion of major progress which emanated from the unbeaten streak against the make-shift minnows.
And now Bafana are perched on the edge of a precipes of extinction after the first round from its own World Cup.
Only an amazing outcome of results and scores in the remaining Group A games can save them, with their fate now largely out of their own hands and the suspensions of goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune and Kagisho Dikgacoi adding to ther wavering loss of morale and confidence.
And while Safa president Kirsten Nematandani is optimistic Bafana will stage a comeback against France in Bloemfontein on Tuesday, they might well find themselves playing for nothing more than to restore a measure of pride.
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