Compliments of the New Year to the Soccer-Laduma readers and I hope you all had a pleasant Christmas break and that you’ve all recharged your batteries for the year ahead.
Our editor, Clint Roper, is still on holiday and I’ve been roped in from the bench to replace him this week. A lot has happened since our last edition of 2012, Safa officials were suspended and reinstated, following match-fixing allegations. The transfer window is also open and you can expect some surprise moves during the month of January. For all the latest moves and more on these subjects, log on to our web and mobi sites for regular updates. Gordon Igesund also named his CAF Afcon 2013 Bafana Bafana squad, leaving out some fan-favourites, something that didn’t sit well with a section of the national team supporters. One thing is for sure, no coach in the world can please every supporter. In fact, if we were to ask our readers to submit their Bafana squads, chances are we’d have thousands of different squads.
I have my own opinions about Gordon’s selection, but what difference does it make? The man has made up his mind and nothing, bar injuries, will change his squad. Our job is to give the whole team our unwavering support and make sure that this becomes the most successfully hosted Afcon tournament in history. After all, we hosted a brilliant 2010 FIFA World Cup. Not that I’m saying we should be the best hosts and the worst performers on the field! Sure it’s great to make history by hosting the most successful tournament, but we have to complement that success on the field. Everyone must play their part, that’s what teamwork is all about and obviously it’s not just about being the best hosts. The slow ticket sales in Port Elizabeth and Rustenburg have been a slight worrying factor but I hope, with the festive season over, people will start purchasing those tickets and booking their seats. We have to support the tournament and not just Bafana Bafana.
Bafana played Norway last night (Tuesday) at Cape Town Stadium and will play Algeria on Saturday at Orlando Stadium. If what one of my colleagues told me about only 20-odd tickets being available for the Norway match by Monday night is anything to go by, then Bafana will have enjoyed full-house support in the Mother City, something they haven’t enjoyed in Gauteng for a long time. I hope the Gautengers will prove everyone wrong by packing the stadium to the rafters on Saturday. Whatever happens in these two international preparatory friendlies mustn’t take away from the bigger picture, doing well in the Afcon. I know the team hasn’t been firing on all cylinders in recent years and that could be the reason for the “boycott” but, in the wake of the Afcon, let’s all forget the past and focus on making the most of the opportunity to host this prestigious continental showpiece.
As we all know, we’re in this tournament only by virtue of being the hosts, as was the case with the 2010 World Cup. This followed the crisis in Libya, who had been earmarked as the hosts and, for safety and security reasons, Libya and South Africa swapped the hosting rights, with the 2017 edition going to Libya. With the tournament in our own backyard, why not capitalise and be the 12th man for our team? We failed to qualify for the past two editions, after we only qualified as best runners-up in the 2008 edition. For a country with arguably the best resources on the continent, this is just not on!
We’ve been harking back to our 1996 Afcon success for 17 years now, surely it is time for new memories. The only way to forget about the Class of ’96 is for the Class of 2013 to make new memories! Let the players go out there, not just to add numbers, but to compete and make history. The current crop owes the country something to cheer about, following their embarrassing ‘victory dance’ after playing to a goalless draw against Sierra Leone in their last qualifier for the 2012 edition of the tournament in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
If there was ever a perfect opportunity for Bafana Bafana to stand up and be counted, this is it! Get a win against Cape Verde and set the tone because the supporters will certainly do their part.