The year 2017/18 is going to be very important, most importantly for participation and qualification for Bafana Bafana. One of the biggest tests is of course the match against Nigeria in Uyo for the AFCON qualifier.
The coach has recently announced his team and this is the first big test for him. I don’t think it is not often that coaches start off with such huge tests. I remember when Gordon Igesund was appointed; his first task was against Brazil away in Sao Paolo. It was a huge challenge for him even though the team played well and lost 1-0.
Looking back at the last three matches, we did well against Nigeria and I think we have a good chance against them. I think the psychological issues around playing against Nigeria are gone now. Most of the Bafana Bafana players that have been selected have played against Nigeria on multiple occasions.
Of course, beyond the AFCON qualifiers, we have the CHAN qualifiers and we have indicated that we should look at CHAN to broaden our pool of players. We would not expect the coach to use the players pursuing the FIFA World Cup and AFCON qualification to also pursue CHAN qualification because that would be quite a stretch on the players.
Looking at the past COSAFA Cup, we won with basically our U23 team and used it to prepare the U23 for the Olympics and now we use it to broaden our pool of players going forward.
Then of course the big test is towards the end of the year, qualification for the World Cup in Russia. Again, we have four points with two matches against Cape Verde home and away and a home match against Burkina Faso still to take place.
I think if we can get through those 3 matches then the last away match to Senegal in Dakar shouldn’t be as difficult. So it is indeed a daunting task and quite a demanding period for Bafana Bafana.
Firstly looking at Amajita, I don’t think they performed to their full capability. I believe that the team is capable of much more and a better performance than what we saw but obviously we still need to sit with the technical team to find out what went wrong.
However, this will serve as a basis for the next Olympics. Many of these players are 18 and 19 and the Olympics is of course for U23 players so the likes of Rivaldo Coetsee and a few other players can still make it into the U23 to ensure we have a strong team.
But of course the core of the U23 squad will be from the U20 players who went to the World Cup. We are proud of the fact that saw some very talented players there who are also playing regularly in the PSL as well as abroad. So we have a good crop of players that are being closely monitored by our technical team.
Ultimately what we are saying about Vision 2022 is that 2022 is a World Cup year and we said by then, we must have a team that qualifies for the World Cup and takes us to the final round of the World Cup and therefore, our teams must start not only qualifying for major tournaments but make an impact. We have been to the U17 World Cup, U20 World Cup and the Olympics in Rio.
However, mere qualification and participation is not where Vision 2022 ends, we want to be a serious player at the events and go to the final stages. That is the final objective of Vision 2022.
Underlying this is the acceleration of the number of coaches we train, number of referees we train and if you look at the period we are in, you will notice a number of coaches that we have trained.
We are also encouraging former players to come into football and be coaches with the appropriate qualifications so that they can accelerate the broad pool of players.
So we will continue to strengthen the drive to deliver that quality that is world class.
Our National Technical Centre at Fun Valley will help greatly towards this vision. We are going to roll out the pitches there and invest further recourses that we receive. We have already invested more than R85 million into the National Technical Centre and we will probably invest another R150 million in the next five years so that it is a state of the art facility for all our teams.
They will train there with all the medical and scientific support systems and we therefore should be able to deliver a world class team by 2022.