OUR FOOTBALL WILL RECOVER SOON

OUR FOOTBALL WILL RECOVER SOON

There is an ongoing argument that the standard of the local game is on a downward spiral. I have to concede that
2018 was not a particularly good year for local football, especially with both ourselves and the national team seeing off less than impressive results. I do want to argue though that this assessment is based on comparisons with particularly the great performances of 2016-17, and the first few months of 2018. I recall the telltale headlines of 2016, in particular, that celebrated a national team that rocked. The team finally came to the end of an over 30-months long era during which it was rated in the top 100 world national teams, a flattering return indeed. It is my argument that a team that has achieved so much in recent years cannot suddenly become bad. It is my considered view that Eswatini is just going through a lean patch from which we should be able to recover. Everyone gets to have a bad day in the office once in a while. I have observed how such great footballing nations as Portugal have seen worse depressions in recent years, only winning the Euro in 2016 in a dour tournament that left a bad taste in the mouth, according to leading football commentators. I just browsed through the internet, and
found a few interesting comments. Here is one: “Euro 2016 would be remembered as one of the poorest major international competitions of all time, so it is fitting that the Portugal side that claimed the trophy played in a manner that epitomised the tournament. Dour, defensive and boring, Fernando Santos’ side ground their way to a 1-0 extra-time victory over France, thanks to a fine goal from Eder that was out of keeping with what had gone before. It took them 80 minutes to muster a single shot on goal in the final, which was a bleak spectacle barely fitting of the occasion.” The same Portugal went on to flatter to deceive in subsequent tournaments, including the recent world cup in Russia, where they started like a house on fire and fell like a house of cards. But wait a minute, Portugal is on the mend, and should be able to hold its own in future tournaments with a young squad that is full of talent and belief, a far cry from the one-man show under the legendary Cristiano Ronaldo. That is football; a
dynamic game where no one can stay at the top for ever. Think Brazil, with a great squad, with super quality in
every department; they still crashed out in the world cup without ever matching any of their past glory. Our squad may have not achieved much, but by regional standards, and given the resources at our disposal, Eswatini has managed to shell off that whipping boys tag. As we hold hands to build a future together, we must not ignore the lessons of the past. It is important that we put our heads together and pick out the positives and build on these for the sustainable growth of our football. I have a feeling that 2019 will be a good year for Eswatini football; the reason is simple – with Ingwenyama Cup overlapping onto the new year, almost all premier league teams have been kept busy throughout the holidays and the level of fitness will be very high. What with the Eswatini Bank Cup still to be contested, sideby-side with the MTN league. This is how quality players are developed– through keeping them active by contesting in many tournaments. I hope players will still find time to get quality rest even as they prepare for all three tournaments in the new year. Till we chat again, Happy New Year.

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