Home Sport COMMENT: Safa and PSL must talk about Bafana’s 2025 qualifiers now

COMMENT: Safa and PSL must talk about Bafana’s 2025 qualifiers now

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It is well-known that the PSL treats Safa with contempt, and that is likely to continue. There is nothing that Safa can do about it because the PSL have been a law unto themselves and usually do not accord Safa the courtesy of a reply after making a request.

Walter Steenbok, Safa’s technical director, is the most likely person to instigate the process to win over the PSL co-operation. He will have to remind the PSL regularly about the upcoming 2025 fixtures in March, September and October. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu, BackpagePix

The bad blood between the Premier Soccer League and the SA Football Association has had serious implications for Bafana Bafana over time.

The time has come for Safa to take action to ensure the PSL no longer jeopardises the national team. Since Hugo Broos was appointed SA coach just over two years ago, he has never had more than a week to work with the squad ahead of tournaments or matches.

Earlier this year, Bafana Bafana had less than a week to prepare for the Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast.

The PSL had decided to continue their domestic schedule up to the last day (December 31) ahead of the start of the international window (January 1).

The PSL are the administrators of professional football in South Africa, and their final 2023 fixture was on December 31, despite Safa’s call to halt matches by December 25.

Most countries had a month to prepare for the continental showpiece by halting domestic competitions in mid-December 2023.

The other setback was that the Sundowns players, who make up the bulk of the national team, arrived on January 5 with an assortment of injuries. It was a tell-tale sign of the exhaustion they were dealing with.

These players were rested until the squad arrived in Ivory Coast on January 11. They also did not participate in the one warm-up match before departure on January 10.

It is well-known that the PSL treats Safa with contempt, and that is likely to continue. There is nothing that Safa can do about it because the PSL have been a law unto themselves and usually do not accord Safa the courtesy of a reply after making a request.

If this continues, Safa will need to nurse the situation by sending the PSL regular reminders of Bafana Bafana’s upcoming fixtures.

By not easing Bafana’s lot, the PSL are placing their clubs’ players at a disadvantage. Should South Africa reach the 2026 World Cup, the value of the players will increase greatly because they enjoy international exposure. This relates to increased payments for PSL clubs when players are sold.

Walter Steenbok, Safa’s technical director, is the most likely person to instigate the process to win over the PSL co-operation. He will have to remind the PSL regularly about the upcoming 2025 fixtures in March, September and October.

Bafana Bafana’s 2026 World Cup campaign has made a solid start after four Group C rounds. This is despite the squad having to deal with formidable challenges. Streetwise coach Broos has managed to keep the side focused, and even he at times was pleasantly surprised by the players’ steely resolve.

There has been a host of upset results in the group, in which Nigeria are by far the highest world-ranked team. Nigeria are the world’s 30th-best team on the latest Fifa rankings, and South Africa slot in at 59.

Nigeria’s poor form has given South Africa a head-start, and this may prove decisive if the Super Eagles recover match-winning form in the remaining six rounds.

Two weeks ago, Nigeria and South Africa played to a 1-1 draw in Uyo.

Their next meeting will be in September 2025 in South Africa. The match will likely be played in Bloemfontein because Bafana Bafana attracted just over 30,000 fans for their match against neighbours Zimbabwe on Tuesday night, which they won 3-1.

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