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Ronza Is Our Captain!

Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos announced SuperSport United goalkeeper Ronwen Williams as his new captain, with Percy Tau deputizing. The announcement was met with mixed reactions, if social media posts are anything to go by, with some believing the Gqeberha-born goalminder isn’t worthy of such a responsibility, while others think it is a step in the right direction.

There are people who seem to think Williams hasn’t earned the right to captain Bafana as they perceive him not up to scratch. They doubt him despite his credentials at club level. This is a man who played his 100th consecutive game for Matsatsantsa a Pitori in February. This is unheard of and surreal, especially in our domestic football, but the 29-year-old goalkeeper has made it look so easy. Ronza, as Williams is affectionately known, has remained one of the most disciplined and focused players in the league and duly deserves everything that comes his way. Maybe his sin is his loyalty to the club that gave him a chance to grow and develop into the player that he is today. He’s made it clear that, despite interest shown by so-called big teams, he remains loyal to SuperSport, unless the team wants to sell him. Who knows, a move to one of those teams could possibly provide the naysayers with rose-coloured glasses to look at him through. Isn’t it funny that the team you play for can determine how people look at you in the national team? In fact, that’s rather unfortunate than funny. We’ve had players who were not better than Williams in Bafana, but because of the teams they played for, were never treated to the abuse and humility this young man has suffered from people who are supposed to be his supporters. Just recently, he was made a scapegoat for our national U23 team’s failure to make an impact at the Olympics. Such has been Williams’ life at international level.    

People always point to his lack of clean sheets in the Bafana jersey and the recent Olympics didn’t help his cause either. But, like coach Steve Komphela once eloquently pointed out, statistics are like a bikini - they don’t reveal everything! When you look into Ronza’s stats, there is a lot that you can uncover, but then again, who cares about facts? Who cares about true analysis? We are all about sensationalism and favoritism.

Williams takes over the armband from Thulani Hlatshwayo, whose Bafana days seem all but numbered, if coach Broos’ plans for the national team are to remain in place. This is a progressive move because both Williams and Tau are relatively young players and their experience will come in handy. This can only augur well for the future of South African football. The so-called tried and tested have done their part, it is now time for a new broom to sweep clean. It is for that reason that I feel we should all be supportive of the move and stop being negative, for a change. Yes, football is a game of opinions and we all have to respect that. Having said that, being negative for the sake of it isn’t going to help anyone. Ronza has been a wonderful servant to our game and casting aspersions on his quality is a shame. He continues to strive for improvement and always heeds the national calls, unlike others who decided to turn their backs on the national team on the back of criticism. He never makes excuses but continues to work on his game, remain focused on the job at hand and doing what he does best. You can’t ask for more! 

Since making his Bafana debut against Brazil on 5 March, 2014, Ronza has never found peace in the national team colours. Every chance they get, people are quick to remind him of that Neymar hat-trick-inspired 5-0 drubbing with little to no attention given on the team performance and how most of those goals were conceded. Such has been the torrid time for Williams that some believe he’s only good at club level. Williams needs our support, coach Broos equally needs our support to realise his dream of turning things around for our national team. It is quite clear that the coach meant what he said about cutting the average age in the national team set-up and this is a brave move that needs to be supported by everyone. 

The irony about the noise made about Ronwen’s captaincy is that the people who are seemingly against the move are the same people who had a lot to say when Kaizer Chiefs coach, Stuart Baxter, confirmed Itumeleng Khune and Bernard Parker as captain and deputy respectively. These are the same people who are complaining about the young Njabulo Ngcobo and Thabani Dube not getting a run since joining the Naturena-based club while Baxter continues with Daniel Cardoso and Erick Mathoho in the heart of his defence. If you question lack of game-time for younger players at club level and then still complain when the senior national team coach shows faith in younger players, then what are you doing? Isn’t that double standards? Yes, change is never an easy process, but it is always necessary from time to time. 

As Broos takes charge of the team for the first time against Zimbabwe and Ghana, in back-to-back World Cup qualifiers, he will be counting on our full support. The boys will be banking on us supporting them rather than criticizing unnecessarily. Our team needs change and improvement. We’ve not had any reason to smile for a long time. Our failure to qualify for Cameroon still leaves a bitter taste in the mouth and surely we’d rather take time preparing a younger team than going nowhere with a more experienced one. The squad that was called up says a lot about where the coach wants to take our team and the future of South African football. To coach Broos, our captain Ronza and the boys, go out there and represent us with pride. All the best in the two important fixtures and you are our captain, Ronza, and one day even the naysayers will finally see what the coaches see in you.






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