Cape Town – Had the South African Football Association (SAFA) provided Libya with the option of choosing the venue for last Saturday’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Bafana Bafana, there is little doubt the North Africans would have gratefully plumped for the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
It is now history that SAFA duly obliged, with South Africa surrendering what could be valuable points in deciding whether qualification is achieved for the 24-team tournament in Cameroon next year following the intriguing, chess-like goalless draw at Durban’s soccer headquarters.
It is no secret that both SAFA and the PSL have for some time been seduced into fixturing an abundance of major games in Durban through the financial-linked incentives of one sort or another offered by the KwaZulu-Natal regime’s efforts to establish their province as a major attraction, both in sporting affairs and also further afield.
In some instances, the decision to descend on semi-tropical Durban has been justified, as in the case of the MTN8 final between Cape Town City and SuperSport United at the end of the month being a neutral venue and one which might attract a better crowd in testing circumstances than any other neutral venue.
But it was palpably questionable in taking last Saturday’s Nations Cup qualifier to a venue closest to mirroring conditions in Libya itself and which the visitors clearly relished above others.
Being a diplomat in most respects, Bafana coach Stuart Baxter voiced cautious low-key misgivings about the Moses Mabhida venue even before the game against Libya was played.
And, while taking into account that the North Africans were a well-oiled and disciplined combination who were certainly no pushovers in any case, the correctness of questioning the venue was palpably evident.
Now, sources within SAFA’s technical staff have come forth and made it clear that they expected technical issues to be a major consideration in the future in deciding the venues for major and far-reaching international games, in particular.
Being the diplomat that he is, Baxter was loathe to make any outspoken criticisms when approached On Wednesday.
But he did intimate that he expected to be more influential in deciding the venues of Bafana games in the future!