21 November 2017 – The fat lady has unfortunately . . . sung! Our beloved national football team Bafana Bafana will not be going to Russia next year and competing in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Good luck to Senegal, the other competing African nations as well as the rest of the countries who have successfully qualified.

However, should we merely sit around, mope and feel sorry for ourselves or look forward to the future with a positive mind-set? I personally prefer to partake in the latter and urge all football-loving South Africans to do the same.

In the mean time we can look forward to some African Cup of Nations qualifiers next year in which our team take on the likes of Libya, Seychelles and mighty rivals Nigeria in a challenging but exciting group.

I fully expect the team to do well and qualify for the showpiece African event, especially after having done so brilliantly in the first match against Nigeria. Fans will fondly remember Stuart Baxter’s first game in charge in his second stint as coach in which he led the team to a stunning 2-0 away victory.

The above win was not at all a fluke against a team that qualified for Russia 2018 from the group of death, having ousted the likes of Algeria, Cameroon and Zambia. With the top two making their way to the 2019 event, we can look forward to these matches with confidence that Bafana should do the business and grab that top-two spot in what would be a great stepping-stone to even greater things.

The men’s senior national team will also have to share the spotlight with the likes of Basetsana (Women’s U20 team) who are also taking aim at World Cup qualification as well as Bantwana (Girls U17 team), who are attempting the same feat as well. Good luck to both teams for their matches against Burundi and Botswana respectively. We look forward to seeing you compete on the biggest stage of them all.

Next month also sees the Men’s U20 team doing battle in the COSAFA Youth Championships in Zambia. Looking at the group stage draw, the boys should do us proud here as well.

Banyana Banyana also has vital AFCON qualifiers next year and with their track record you would expect nothing less than professional displays as they attempt to seal their spot.

It also goes without saying that the South African Football Association’s (SAFA) much talked about Vision 2022 project is still very much on track and coming together rather nicely and is bound to bear the proverbial fruits in the near future (such as AFCON and World Cup qualification for our younger teams).

Projects such as this take time and it is all in the planning. Thus far, SAFA has done a sterling job in this regard and implementation has been steady as well as encouraging. V2022 is all set to bring about massive change and sustained success for all national football teams and enhance all levels of the game within the country. Sound administration, governance and gender equality have all been taken to new levels via the V2022 blueprint as has commercial viability.

Other key aspects such as a specific focus on Schools Football, has already been taken care of. Another important facet of the plan (Technology), has also been a huge priority and the results of this are there for all to see with SAFA’s digital wing successfully rolling out and implementing the exciting MYSAFA registration system across the country. Click here for more: https://www.mysafa.net/login

Interesting times lie ahead for South African football and fans simply have to keep the faith and exercise just a little bit more patience. SAFA have invested a lot of time, energy, finances, planning and resources into ensuring South Africa football is consistently in a healthy and positive state for decades to come. Yes we all may feel a tad sad at present but the future indeed looks bright!

By: Dhirshan Gobind

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