COMMENT: Cringeworthy move by Zizi Kodwa to talk tactics with Bafana

South Africa’s Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Zizi Kodwa. Picture: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

South Africa’s Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Zizi Kodwa. Picture: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Published Jan 18, 2024


It would have been very difficult for anyone to predict that issues that stunted the progress of the South African national team would follow them all the way to west Africa.

The Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) campaign of Bafana Bafana got off to a poor start following their 2-0 defeat to Mali in their opening match on Tuesday night.

Hugo Broos and his men have not only suffered a huge dent to their chances of qualifying for the knockout stages, but have also opened the door to uninformed opinions to flood their workspace.

Bafana have, for the longest time, been made to feel like the unwanted stepchild in the South African sporting spectrum, and continue to battle their way into the hearts of Mzansi.

If their disappointment after the defeat was not palpable enough, the appearance of an unfamiliar face in a dead-quiet changeroom may have irked a group of professional footballers.

The main role of Sports Minister Zizi Kodwa, when addressing the players, is that of providing moral support and motivational upliftment. However, the fragility of a changeroom in professional sport makes the entire idea of his presence there a great risk.

Kodwa’s decision to speak to Bafana’s side after the Mali defeat, alongside SA Football Association president Danny Jordaan – who’s not a popular figure among football fans in the country – may have set him up for failure before he even started speaking.

— Minister of Sport, Arts & Culture (@zizikodwa) January 16, 2024

Firstly, while Kodwa addressed a despondent Bafana in his professional capacity, he represented the interests of all South African supporters – and therefore, it was only a matter of time before he spoke about team tactics and strategy, in true supporter fashion.

If the minister’s wishes are to protect the interests of Bafana, he should let the professionals around the sport handle such technical business, especially with Broos still leading the changeroom.

Secondly, footage that was recorded during the incident not only revealed a cringeworthy attempt to grab the spotlight by Kodwa, but the visuals also suggested that Broos wanted no part of it.

The 71-year-old Belgian stood behind the delegation and stared at the ground as Kodwa suggested more “short passes” was the way Bafana should seek to play.

“Technically, I’m sure the coach would have drawn some lessons from this game … The only way to pass them, they don’t know those short passes. Avoid high balls …” was part of Kodwa’s speech to the team.

For a man that already feels he is not supported enough by various entities in the country, it would not be too far-fetched to suggest that Broos may have felt undermined at that moment.

Thirdly, Bafana have had to bear comparisons to the Springboks and the Proteas for several years, and if Kodwa had been seen ‘talking tactics’ in other national team changerooms, perhaps he could have been forgiven for his talk to Bafana this week.

But while Bafana may appreciate the support from the entire South African contingent, the instability of their changeroom makes avoidance the best solution for anyone from the outside as the squad look to band together through a difficult moment ahead of Sunday’s clash against Namibia.