Swift Action Must Be Taken
Pitso Mosimane needs to stop sulking and together with his SAFA bosses, get pro-active in solving our striker crisis.
“Today we created way too many chances. We could have scored three goals. But I have four days to work with this team. I’m not here to teach people how to finish. We get the players from the clubs.”
To a certain extent Mosimane’s comment after the 1-1 draw with the Ivory Coast is understandable. But, does he plan to actually do something about this problem, or he is he going to continue to use this an excuse?
Playing a different system (starting with two out-and-out strikers) may help, so too might better team selection. Or in a more extreme case, Mosimane could be fired.
But this is not getting to the root of the problem – the fact we all need to face is that apart from Benni McCarthy (who came with his own problems), and now Katlego Mphela, South Africa has been desperately short of goal-scoring strikers for many years.
Just look at the PSL top goal-scorers list for the past decade – it’s been dominated by foreign strikers, with local-born marksmen rarely getting past the 15-goal mark.
Goals win games, and for all our extremely talented and skilful midfield players (and our more than adequate defenders), we have long been lacking noteworthy strikers. One has to go back to 80’s and 90’s, when he had people like Marks Moponyane, Fani Madida, Mark Williams, Noel Cousins and Shane McGregor regularly finding the net.
Its now a matter of urgency that SAFA and the PSL work together (yes, it’s a strange concept, I know) to sort out this problem, otherwise no amount of chopping and changing of coaches is going to help – Pitso is right when he says he is not here to teach a striker how to score goals.
Instead of moaning, Mosimane needs to engage with his SAFA bosses and find a solution. Not next season or after we fail to qualify for Brazil 2014, but right now.
And we have the perfect window period to do it – the two month break coming up when he have to sit and watch jealously as the Nations Cup takes place, without us.
So here is my suggestion:
1. Compile a panel of former strikers and coaches, those coaches who best understand the modern science of football, not the old-school type who get by with their motivational team-talks. Moving forward (long-term), these coaches need themselves to be ‘coached’ and to earn their appropriate certificates and coaching badges. In the meantime, we may need international assistance to complement what we have.
2. Indentify the country’s leading marksmen – including those currently overlooked. There are companies out there that right this minute can provide extremely useful, in depth and cutting edge data to assist in the selection process. The initial group should compose of about 20 strikers – 10 who have an immediate prospect of playing for Bafana Bafana, and another 10 for the future – for example, 16 to 21 year-olds.
3. Organise a clinic / camp at one of the country’s top facilities, such as Naturena or Ikamva.
4. Bring in foreign expertise if necessary, the whole shebang: video analysis, sports psychiatrists (an important aspect, as composure in front of goal is as much about strength of mind as technique).
That’s the immediate plan. In the future, SAFA needs to work with the PSL to ensure these camps happen regularly, a few times a season, and perhaps in the off-season as well.
The PSL has shown it is able to clear the calendar for the World Cup / Nations Cup, so it should not be a problem to arrange four or five week-log camps per season.
The next stage would then be to broaden and expand this programme further so we can also bring in younger players – kids, and those also playing in the NFD and Vodacom leagues.
Imagine a scenario where we have a group of 40 of South Africa’s most promising strikers, from all corners of the country, all coming together and working under former legends of the game, with the best technology at their disposal, developing a common method and style that in the future will be implemented from a youngster’s formative years all the way up until he is professional.
By Anthony McLennan