We are smack bang in the middle of Rio 2016, but SA’s male and female footballers had already landed in Johannesburg yesterday afternoon, both failing to record a single win in Brazil.
It is easy to look at the state of South African football these days with a weary cynicism, as one disappointment on the international stage seems to follow another – so first the positives.
This was the first time SA’s men and women had both qualified for the same Games and this is an achievement, particularly for Banyana Banyana, who, as coach Vera Pauw was perhaps too keen to point out afterwards, do not have a professional league to back them at home.
It is fair to say Banyana have overachieved to some extent by reaching the Olympics, and to have expected them to beat Sweden, China and Brazil was always optimistic. That said, Banyana also did only marginally better than they did in London 2012 under Joseph Mkhonza. Safa has a difficult decision to make on whether Pauw has brought the value they hoped for in her two and a bit years in charge.
Moving to the men’s team, they began by raising hope with a creditable draw against the hosts, but ultimately were not able to make it out of their group. As much as Owen Da Gama’s side had some bad luck in losing to Denmark, they were also fortunate not to be beaten in their final 1-1 draw with Iraq.
Da Gama’s tactics were bizarre at times – from the decision to field Kwanda Mngonyama as a defensive midfielder, to the choice not to play Tyroane Sandows at all. Da Gama got it right by selecting Itumeleng Khune and Eric Mathoho as his overage players, but there was also a glaring void at the other end, where missed chances cost South Africa dearly, especially against the Danes.
A lack of a reliable goalscorer is not a new problem in our game, but sadly, right now, there is no sign of a solution.