Focus on building new generation of footballers
BAFANA Bafana can reclaim their place as one of the powerhouses of African football if coach Stuart Baxter gets a long-term commitment from SAFA and a youth-based program to help build a new generation of international players.
This is the view of Kenny Niemach, the former Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns prolific striker.
‘King Kenny’, as he was affectionately known in his heady days as a prolific striker in front of goals, was speaking after the Bafana Bafana squad consisting of mostly young players won the Four Nations tournament in Zambia, beating the hosts 2-0 in the final last weekend.
Baxter, who took a relatively young team to Zambia said he is delighted with the character shown by the players.
“I’m delighted with the character the lads have shown, especially how the younger players have performed. We had a couple of kids playing from the start. It would have been easy for me not to start with Lebo [Mothiba] (22). We were under pressure in the second half of the final and it would have been easy for me to take off Sphesihle Ndlovu (21) and put on Dean Furman,” said the 64-year-old Briton.
Baxter will be hoping the youngsters will increase their level of competition when the African Cup of Nations 2019 qualifiers kick off later this year.
Bafana are to play Libya in an AFCON qualifier at home in September before facing Seychelles away.
But Niemach says Baxter needs a long-term commitment from the South African Football Association with objectives and milestones in mind. He says a regenerative program from school soccer to football academies, focusing on the youth can help improve the national team’s performance.
“There has to be a definite and clear identity of the brand of football South Africa needs to play right now and academies are the best way to start-up the youth. I believe given the right resources and planning Bafana can once again compete as a major player on the continent provided the criteria for selection is clearly defined and the youth is schooled,” said Niemach.
He said it was even more encouraging is that Bafana beat the hosts Zambia before their own legion of supporters using young players like Sundowns livewire Percy Tau.
“We do need a bit of steel in the way we play in West and East Africa because they are physically stronger and faster so we need in those areas,” he concluded.
Niemach, who started a nomadic career in Durban with D’Alberton Callies and had a spell with Moroka Swallows, famously moved to Amakhosi in August 2001 within days of joining Manning Rangers from Sundowns.
“There has to be a clear understanding of the philosophy and ethos we would employ. Furthermore an in-depth study on the nutritional requirements from junior to senior level over a set period,” he said.
Niemach cited the example of France who went on to win the 1998 Fifa World Cup because they wrote a document on the development of a team over a 10-year period which included greats like [Thiery] Henry and [Zinedine] Zidane.
“I would do exactly the same and start from the beginning with a selection that is clearly defined,” he said.