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SBJ/July 6-12, 1998/This Weeks News
Africa’s ’06 hope
Published July 6, 1998, Page 31
That’s why the $2 million appearance fee all competitors at France 90 receive will go to train South African coaches and players in a five-year plan designed to produce a world-beating national team.
“Bafana Bafana” (the boys, the boys) is what South Africans call the national team. And its rapid success mirrors the rise of soccer in the post-apartheid nation. Football, by far, has become the nation’s most popular sport, something that hasn’t been lost on Intrnational Foderation of Football Associated (FIFA0 President Sepp Blatter. He has said he would like the World Cup to be staged in Africa, where it has never been held.
“Everywhere you go in South Africa, people are playing football,” said South African Football Association President Molefi Oliphant. “The passion we have for it is unbelievable. Once we get more experience, we can make a huge impression.”
That’s where the $2 million can help. The team’s four coaches will travel around the world on an extensive soccer training course in the main football regions. When they return, they will teach what they’ve learned to other coaches and players.
“We expect the process of learning and training to be complete within five years,” Oliphant said. He also has the services of Horst Kriller, a coaching director with the German Football Association, who has been loaned to South Africa.
According to Oliphant, South Africa has not only a wellspring of untapped talent but also the facilities and organization to hold the World Cup. “If we were to be awarded football’s biggest event, then we would truly have rejoined the rest of the world,” he said.