Cosafa's decline needs attention

JOHANNESBURG - More than 30 African federation Presidents, CEOs and Technical Directors have just concluded a three-day brainstorming workshop in Johannesburg on how to improve the game on the African continent with the worrying factor being the failure by Cosafa to compete against other regions.

Despite the sessions being open and robust, Cosafa president Suketu Patel was left with more questions than answers on why Cosafa has failed to keep up the pace with the rest of Africa.

For the record, again no Cosafa team will be going to the World Cup in Brazil, with Mzansi and Angola the only countries from the region to have the distinction of having done so in the past.

All clubs from the 13-member country have been eliminated from the African Champions League, making Cosafa spectators for the remainder of Africa’s premier club tournament.

Apart from Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs who have won the Champions League and the then Cup Winners Cup, none of Cosafa clubs has won anything of note on the continent.

On the national teams’ front, only Bafana Bafana and recently, Chipolopolo have won the Africa Cup of Nations.

This does not make good reading and calls for urgent steps to be taken if the region is to be at par with the rest of Africa.

The mild-mannered Patel was at pains to explain the malaise of the region when asked to do so by some probing journalists but the long and short of all is that a common approach is needed – and needed very urgently.

The region’s soccer bosses need to do some introspection because something is not right.

The underperforming of Cosafa’s national teams and clubs is not only strange but a cause for concern.

What is more worrying is Mzansi’s recent sharp slump which has left the region without a leader to take Cosafa soccer forward.

Questions which leaders needed answers to where, are development programmes being undertaken within the region not tailor-made for our players? Is the format of the leagues in the region to blame as they do not produce enough talent for overseas market? Or can it be that the region has plenty of minnows which do not encourage enough competition among teams?

The fact that some clubs and national teams from the region have conquered Africa before renders these theories no credence.

Cosafa has just lost direction and the leadership needs to accept the shocking decline as a problem they needs to find a solution to. That the region has failed to adapt to changing patterns is without doubt.

Part of the solution though might lie in the revamped club licensing requirements whose fundamental philosophy provides professionally run clubs, each with an academy to produce talent pipeline.

In a nutshell, new club licensing requires transparency, accountability and professionalism within all teams going forward. Any team that does not comply with the new club licensing will not be allowed to participate in continental club competition.

If all clubs comply with this new ruling, it will give all clubs a fresh start and all on the same footing. This way, the playing field will have been levelled and I believe Cosafa might once again compete with the rest of Africa.

I think adhering to club licensing might be a solution Patel and his colleagues need for Cosafa to compete with the likes of North and West Africa.

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