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'Quality of football in SA deteriorating'

Some players and the coach of 1996 have shared their thoughts on the current Bafana squad.

Some players and the coach of 1996 have shared their thoughts on the current Bafana squad. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - Former Bafana Bafana players have spoken out following the side's disastrous showing at the 2014 Orange African Nations Championship (Chan).

The host nation was knocked out of the competition on Sunday after losing 3-1 to Nigeria.

Following their loss, Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula lashed out at the national team labeling them a "bunch of losers."

Many people have since come out in defence of Bafana saying Mbalula was harsh while others say he spoke the truth.

Former Bafana coach Clive Barker told the Redi Tlhabi Show that it is easy to blame coach Gordon Igesund.

"The easy way out is to blame the coach. But I think everybody goes into the kitchen knowing how hot it is likely to be. It looked like Gordon was turning it around, but unfortunately you have to deliver if you are playing in tournaments at home. Of course they didn't deliver in the Afcon and certainly didn't deliver in this last tournament."

However, Barker says people must not forget that Nigeria is a strong team.

"People must look at Nigeria realise they have quality players. They have people who performed on the day and I think that's what made the team of 1996 so strong. They were able to deliver when they had to and I'm afraid this team didn't deliver."

Barker believes Nigeria is the only African team that is more likely to do well in the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

At the same time, former player Marks Maponyane says Bafana seemed to lack purpose against Nigeria.

"One thing that one has picked up is that there isn't enough commitment and sense of purpose. Sense of purpose in a sense that you get in there and you say I want to make an impression, I want to make a name and I want to leave a legacy behind."

He says the national team needs to dig deep.

"Go out there and win is not good enough, but just give them a lecture that will make the nation know that these people are showing a lot of commitment."

Another former Bafana player Mark Fish says the team of 1996 which won the Africa Cup of Nations enjoyed massive support.

"We had a superb coach, a federation that was behind us and we were very fortunate to have the country and the media behind us. We had a common goal which was to wear the national team shirt and go on to perform."

Fish says unfortunately the quality of South African football has since deteriorated.

"When you look at the history of South African football and how we've slowly deteriorated since 1992 when we were readmitted. Players and coaches have come and gone, but to me the federation [has to sort itself out]."

He says the federation needs to sort itself out so that the rest can fall into place.

"There are too many people that have been in that federation that unfortunately I don't think the common cause is football. I think the common cause if how much money can we get and what we can do with it. Unfortunately they are not putting it back into football."

Fish says it is sad that South Africa is still reminiscing about 1996, 18 years later.

He says the Premier Soccer League (PSL) and the South African Football Association (Safa) need to sort out their differences so that the national team can thrive.