We Let Bafana Down
I’m disappointed, in fact, I’m bitterly disappointed that we failed our national football team, Bafana Bafana, in their hour of need.
How can we fail to get a decent crowd to flock to FNB Stadium to support our boys against Seychelles on Saturday? Thanks to the +-15 000 passionate supporters who braved the wet weather conditions in Gauteng to rally behind the team instead of being social media supporters whose only mission seems to criticise without playing any part in trying to solve the problems facing our national team. We have become armchair critics and lost our patriotism in the process.
Instead of helping find solutions to our problems, we seem to have decided to distance ourselves from our team and anyone who thinks that’s the right thing to do needs to have their heads examined. For a country claiming to be a football-loving nation, we sent a very wrong message to the team this past weekend. We really let Bafana down and I hope we don’t witness anything like that again.
The picture of an empty FNB Stadium still haunts me, especially when I think back to the capacity-packed Loftus Versfeld three weeks ago when coach Rassie Erasmus’ Springboks hosted New Zealand in the Rugby Championship. The two sets of national teams represented our country under two completely contrasting circumstances. Baxter would have loved to swap seats with his counterpart and the impact that coming-from-behind 30-32 All Blacks win broke so many hearts but the unity the team’s performance brought was just unbelievable! Even non-rugby fanatics across the country were ‘captured’ even if it was for just 80 minutes of that Saturday afternoon. You didn’t even have to understand rugby in order to enjoy the atmosphere but, in a complete contrast, it looked like a lot of people didn’t even know that Bafana was playing on Saturday afternoon.
That the game was not televised on the national broadcaster, SABC didn’t even help the crowd attendance. One would think the opposite would be true, as many of our people don’t have access to the DStv, but the stadium looked disappointingly empty and something was just missing. There was more supporters’ action on social media than there were bums on seats at the stadium. We have to change this, South Africa! We just can’t carry on like this – our football needs us now more than ever.
Granted, Bafana haven’t covered themselves in any glory in recent games, however, could it get so worse that we expected our team to lose to Seychelles?
Supporting Bafana Bafana is more than just about the results, more than about the head coach, more than about the players, it is about giving service to our country. We are duty-bound to support our national teams steadfastly and whenever there are problems, we should be leading in search of solutions. We all have a role to play in finding solutions to our problems. We should make our players feel proud to be called up to represent their country because they are guaranteed to get more support, appreciation and love than they do at their clubs. Our players shouldn’t dread reporting for camp, it should be something they always look forward to. When reporting for national duty becomes a drag, it defeats the objective of wearing the national team colours. That’s when players choose to rather focus on club commitments and then we accuse them of turning their backs on the country and lacking patriotism. Our players should enjoy playing for Bafana; in fact, they should always be itching for the next call-up. The lack of support for our team could be one of the reasons singing our national anthem doesn’t bring as much emotion and pride now as it used to back then. Compare our players to their Springbok counterparts during the singing of the national anthem and spot the difference. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of our players don’t even know the whole national anthem, sad as it may sound.
If there was one opportunity to restore some pride in our team, it was the game against Seychelles. We missed out on witnessing, in front of a decent crowd, a young Lebo Mothiba creating his own history by being the first player to score in his first three Bafana appearances. That’s a 100% strike rate for the French Ligue 1 side, Racing Strasbourg, striker who has taken his club form to the national team. We missed out on observing this young lad terrorising the opposition defence and bringing a new dimension to our attack. We missed out on Bafana Bafana scoring the highest number of goals, six, beating the eight-year standing controversial 5-0 international friendly win against Guatemala. We missed out on seeing the young and rejuvenated team playing their hearts out.
We are on the verge of qualifying for the AFCON 2019, something we’ve struggled to do in previous years, and this should be enough motivation for all of us to rally behind our team. After the Seychelles home and away fixtures, Bafana will be hosting Nigeria and, if the game at FNB Stadium is anything to go by, we might just be outnumbered by our bitter rivals in the stands. This is just not on, South Africa. We can do much better than this! Let us not turn our backs on our national team. Supporting them doesn’t mean we have to keep quiet and accept mediocre performances. It is by no means double standards when we lambaste Bafana’s poor displays and then call on our people to support them. We will continue to make noise about the poor results and state of our football, but stopping to support them because we are disillusioned is the last thing that should occupy our minds.
This is the game we all claim to love, let us not fold our arms and watch it go to the dogs. Let’s act now because, in an era of social media, our football has never been more desperate for support.