The heavy defeat by Brazil has provoked reactions of a tsunami proportions. Those who are responsible for providing coverage and analysis of the game via TV, radio and newspapers, tried to find explanations in the coaching manual (obviously the old one).
Nothing was omitted from the book of tactics, play systems and strategies. They say, the “main reasons” of Bafana “unexpected” and complete failure are: “weak central defence”, “giving the ball away”, “poor in transition” (!?), “allowing Brazil to play between our lines”(!!??), “no communication”, “no tactical alertness”, “poor reading of the game”, “no wing play”, “lack of creativity”, “wrong line up and substitutions” and more. Incredibly that again, all the negative effects of Bafana’s performance were closely identified and criticised but no one ever mentioned what are the real causes of those dreadful deficiencies.
It confirms, once again, the general inability to understand key requirements of high performance in football. A simple analytical look at what makes Brazil and other football nations enjoy success in the game would disclose fundamental facts. Today’s Brazil can serve as a perfect example of proper policy to re-build international success in football. They know again what strengths brought them glory in the past and made sure that Brazilian football is revived, accordingly. The Brazilian identity was strongly imposed last night.
The superior technical skills that give their players tactical freedom and so much creativity has been reinstalled in their youth development – from the age of 5-6 – as the most prominent part of the nation’s football philosophy. When, not too long ago, Scolari, Parreira and Zagallo realized that the European influence was the main reason of Brazilian football’s decline, requested an immediate ‘return to the roots’ of nation’s winning style.
That identity is again winning for Brazil. By huge contrast, in South African football, calls for a national football identity, unreserved recognition of the natural attributes of local players, dismissal of foreign influences or radical changes in the way talent is nurtured are illogically disregarded. The promoters of such ideas are labelled as ‘negative’ or ‘talking too much’.
Football illiterates still oppose the dismissal of those who propagate foreign ideologies in SA football. The harm done to local players by those contrasting foreign coaching and playing mentalities was demonstrated in the last night game where the display of SA players’ mixed and confusing individual styles – elements of Dutch, German, English with only few glimpses of African mentality/skill – largely affected the performance of the team.
How ironic and irrational is to acknowledge that Brazil’s five World Cup successes have been achieved with the invaluable influence of African skill and creativity (without it Brazil’s football would not be different than any other South American nation) and yet in South Africa the ‘original’ of such natural features is discarded! That’s where the real reasons of South African football predicament can be found.
By Ted Dumitru