Bafana of Bafunny
Beaming at the prospect of watching South African national team Bafana Bafana take part in this year’s edition of the Africa Cup of Nations I should say that I am very disappointed. I should probably not be too discouraged too soon but given the group South Africa is competing in and their poor showing in the continental show piece in recent past I will hope for the best. This could possibly be one of the best teams selected in recent past, Coach Shakes Mashaba and the troops seem motivated enough to go the whole nine yards, Bafana eased through the qualification stages and appear to have made up for their failure to fairly qualify in the last continental show piece.
Enough of the technicalities and the competition faced at this year’s edition I would like to take the avid soccer fan back to the mid to early 90s. I am qualified to speak on the subject matter, I read the popular Kick-Off magazine, watched many a Premier Soccer League matches, followed Bafana on their horrid first showing at the World Cup in France in ‘98. In the back, Bryan Baloyi who was also known as Spider Man, aerobatic with a little bag that never left the side of his goal post, captain my captain Lucas “Rhuu” Radebe who had was so successful he ended up playing for Leeds United and even captaining the team, in midfield, Doctor Khumalo 16 valve, the dribble master, John “Shoes” Moshoe blistering down the touch line, up front my childhood hero Benedict “Laat Die Poppie Dans” McCarthy it stirs an emotion. We were used to seeing the team win. You look at the situation today and you simply hope for the best knowing full well a win is just close to impossible. Reflecting on the heroics displayed at the 96’ AFCON edition and subsequent edition in Burkina Faso one question worth asking is, are South African national teams chokers or just plain useless. If your lucky to find yourself playing in one of the big three teams i.e. Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Melodrama Sundowns you command a considerable wage, respectful of you play for the Supersport United’s, Bloem Celtics, and Ajax Cape Towns and okay-ish for the smaller teams. These chaps fly to faraway distances for league matches, comfortable coaches for manageable distances and sleep in hotels, heck Kaizer Chiefs even has a sporting village and at one point contemplated building its own stadium. Sundowns is able to lure back ageing footballers from European leagues, Orlando Pirates has shown time and again how they are willing to fight for the CAF Champions League, Supersport’s United and Ajax Cape Town can proudly boast about the technical support shown to them by European teams, Feyenoord and Ajax Amsterdam, Kaizer Chiefs has played against major European teams Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspurs, heck Sundowns played host to a Barca team that included Ronaldinho and held its own. The PSL is televised live and on high definition, these chaps play on quality surfaces and have all the luxuries available at their back and call, physios, medical doctors, dieticians you name it. How many countries in the continent can claim ownership to this? Is the fact that South Africa fails in Africa perhaps an indication of a deeper problem perhaps? And what are the panacea to address this problem. It should be emphasised that wearing national colours is a privilege and not a right.