Nevertheless, it has been interesting to gauge Carlos Parreira’s first real test as South Africa’s 2010 World Cup coach.
The criticism has been fast and furious, but there has also been plenty of positives which emerged from the campaign. As one scribe noted, two points and three goals from their three games was two points and three goals better than Egypt in 2006.
Neil Tovey, the skipper of the triumphant 1996 African Cup of Nations squad, has pointed out an interesting irony between the Class of ’96 and the boys who represent the country today.
Back then, coach Clive Barker relied mostly on home-grown talent with most of the players plying their trade in the local Premier Soccer League.
But then the exodus began. Many of Europe’s top sides - the likes of Manchester United, Lazio and FC Porto - began looking to Africa as a breeding ground for skilled (and relatively inexpensive) players. Hundreds of the continent’s brightest stars made the move up north, and not a single club in Africa has been capable of buying them back.
2010 Local Organising Committee (LOC) Chairman Irvin Khoza has complained bitterly about this problem: “We must restore our dignity and stop being a feeder continent for Europe.”
While players like MacBeth Sibaya, Benni McCarthy, Bradley Carnell and Delron Buckley have been shining examples of African talent, they have, to a certain degree, left the local game in the lurch.
Parreira appears to be trying to remedy the situation by creating a pool of local talent which will form the nucleus of the team which will do battle in 2010.
He may be sacrificing some talent, but it reduces the country versus club debacle that has taken a major toll on the national side.
After all, if SA is going to mount any serious challenge in 2010, it will need a unified and stable squad.