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Thu Apr 24 08:05:27 SAST 2014

Do it again, Danny, pleeez

Carlos Amato | 24 February, 2011 21:370 Comments

Carlos Amato: Danny Jordaan must be the moer in, and with good reason. The guy's not a saint - you can't deliver a World Cup tournament with a halo securely attached - but he has more compelling credentials for a Fifa executive committee seat than the newly elected member Mohamed Raouraoua has vowels.

But Jordaan's defeat by the Algerian and the Ivorian Jacques Anouma in this week's CAF election could be good news for South Africa, because it presents a chance for a bigger victory. Jordaan could instead contribute his clout and experience to the task of elevating our football to a level approaching the standard of its new stadiums.

He cannot do that from a boardroom in Zurich or Rio or Moscow.

Being a Fifa exco member is a sweet gig, to be sure. You flit around the world first class, touring the great arenas and snoozing in all the grandest hotels. You make some snoozeworthy speeches. And you meet some awfully nice sheikhs and oligarchs. (For those members fond of extramural fundraising, the sport of recognising wired-up "fake sheikhs" before they sting provides a welcome dash of suspense.)

But Jordaan is a doer, not a freeloader. And who cares how much profit Fifa can manage to extract from future World Cups? What matters to us - and what surely matters to Jordaan - is the effective investment of Safa's cut of the 2010 bonanza.

Jordaan's old ally at Safa House, Kirsten Nematandani, shows no sign of translating his tsunami of promises about development into visible action. Safa is arguably an even more slapgat operation than it was under the old regime. It doesn't even have a CEO.

Meanwhile, the PSL forges ahead efficiently if unimaginatively under Irvin Khoza's sway, capitalising on the stadium boon while refusing to invest in a youth/reserve league.

The PSL's standard is rising moderately, but until clubs are compelled to scout and coach youngsters from the age of eight upwards, and concentrate them in elite youth leagues, a South African football renaissance will remain a fantasy.

In the league's defence, the real responsibility for a development revolution lies with Safa, who control both the 2010 purse-strings and the bedrock of the game in schools and amateur football. As things stand, Safa can't arrange a friendly with Burkina Faso. Enough said.

Jordaan is the only man who could break the impasse. At 59, after an exhausting decade, he doesn't want the Safa presidency or the CEO's position.

But Jordaan alone has the influence, the authority and the savvy to design and establish a credible national youth system. South Africa needs an elite national academy at the summit of an efficient talent pyramid. The second rung would consist of PSL academies, the third rung the regional amateur leagues, and the base would be schools football.

Exceptional youngsters would move quickly up the pyramid: a future Leo Messi or Samuel Eto'o would reach the national academy by age nine, where his ability would be honed by well-paid coaches from Spain, Holland, Brazil or Germany.

That scenario only sounds ridiculous to us because we remain naive about how serious development is in serious football countries. And as with any skills revolution, the crux is mustering the courage and the cash to import foreign expertise on a grand scale.

South Africa owes Danny Jordaan. But he owes the country one more big mission. Do it again, Danny. Asseblief.

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Do it again, Danny, pleeez

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