Failure to qualify for 2019’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals could cost Bafana Bafana as much as $4m in prize money alone‚ never mind millions more in lost sponsorship‚ marketing and television revenue.
With the once powerful Bafana brand reduced now to occasional mockery‚ the country’s football is at a serious crossroads going into their key Group E qualifier against Nigeria at FNB Stadium on Saturday.
A loss to the Super Eagles would put the chances of the SA national team in serious peril‚ leaving them needing to avoid defeat away in their last game against Libya to qualify for the tournament in Cameroon.
SA have already missed out on their past two major tournaments — the 2017 Afcon finals in Gabon and the 2018 World Cup – leaving the SA Football Association without many sponsors‚ without a kit deal that pays them hard cash and without a television rights deal‚ which has collapsed in recent weeks.
It is in stark contrast to the days when sponsors were tripping over themselves to be linked to the Bafana brand The costs of any further setbacks will hit Safa hard and the ripple effect will have wider negative consequences for the country’s most popular sport.
But if Bafana beat Nigeria they will qualify. A draw might be enough, depending on what Libya achieve away against the Seychelles the same day.
The impact of qualifying will be cash payments as one of the 24 finalists because the Confederation of African Football hands out a share of the marketing and television revenue.
Countries that qualify for Afcon are now guaranteed a minimum of $475,000. Finishing third in the opening round group earns $575,000 while a quarterfinal place is worth $800,000. The two losing semifinalists each earn $1‚5m, there is $2m for the runner-up and $4m for the winner.