SAFA's 'Vision 2022' does unhappy backflip

Cape Town - It was unwrapped as a progressive master plan when SAFA unveiled what was termed their starry-eyed "Vision 2022" programme for South African soccer some five years ago.

But as far as Bafana Bafana are concerned, at least, the road to enhanced success has undergone a backflip with the national men's soccer team's FIFA world ranking deteriorating from 56th in 2014 to 72nd as the end of the year approaches.

And no matter what progress might have been achieved in other areas, it is the status and success of the national team, like in all other sports, by which South African soccer will, in the main, be judged.

If "Vision 2022" launched by SAFA president Danny Jordaan had gone according to plan, Bafana Bafana would have progressed beyond the first round of a World Cup for the first time in 2018.

Instead South Africa did not as much as even qualify for the tournament and maintained a gloomy record of not qualifying at all since the 2002 event - taking into account that 2010 participation was only as a result of being the host nation.

And with Vision 2022 coming up to expectations Bafana at this juncture would already have made meaningful progress to a place among the top 20 ranked soccer nations in the world and approaching a place among the top three soccer nations in Africa that had been envisaged instead of the current 13th continental place.

Some meaningful progress has been made by Banyana Banyana and national teams at age-group level, but the national women's team are only ranked 55th in the world and have been brought back to earth in recent international encounters.

SAFA might also temper their celebrations and egoistical pronouncements at qualifying for FIFA’s tournaments instead of holding their horses and waiting to see how the South African teams fare at the top level events.

"Vision 2022" has in all reality now a mountain to climb, with a minimum requirement for Bafana to qualify for the 2022 World Cup and fare favourably in Qatar if not make it to the quarter-finals or semi-finals that is part and parcel of the master plan - and achieve the same objectives at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

In the meantime, a good New Year's resolution for SAFA in 2020 might simply be to engage in less talk and concentrate on urgent action to adorn "Vision 2022" with a semblance of reality.