Pele, the greatest soccer player in history – but not Argentina – danced into South Africa this week to promote one of the sponsors of the 2006 World Cup.
During his whirlwind tour, the sporting giant also found time to romp to a 4-nil away victory over the bureaucracy-heavy South African Football Association (SAFA), despite being outnumbered 124 to 1.
Pele pointed out that:
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- SAFA needs to adopt a prudent approach when finding a new coach for South Africa’s national team.
- A local coach might make a good candidate, given that locals know the SA soccer tradition better than foreigners. Then again, foreign coaches are also nice, because of their fresh thinking. It comes down to SAFA taking the decision that best suits its 2010 strategy.
- A strong league is necessary for a good national team.
- He is much fitter than his old teammate, South African Jomo Sono, now one of the country’s chief soccer panjandrums, who used to play with Pele for New York Cosmos.
All this was news to the monsignors in charge of local soccer. Stung to the quick, they babbled ineffectually, then resigned themselves to the status of mere spectators at this show – dazzling to their eyes – of basic soccer management.
Admittedly, two of the footballing great’s goals came from the bumbling feet of SAFA’s own men (many, like Jomo, haven’t seen their feet in years), who lost their concentration after it was announced that afternoon chocolate was being served. But SAFA is used to own goals, and the chocolate made up for any disappointment.