Big things on the way
THE sporting atmosphere is suddenly lovely.
There is something great to look forward to - perhaps fittingly therapeutic if we consider the depressing state of our political economy.
The feeling of contentment among South Africans erupted after the draw of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, which was conducted in Durban on Wednesday night.
Not only do we anticipate a great soccer showpiece from the best of teams on the African continent, but we also expect our limping national side, Bafana Bafana, to use this opportunity to redeem themselves.
On paper the group drawn with Bafana seems to favour the hosts.
But, as has repeatedly been demonstrated, this game is never a walk in the park. In fact, history shows that some of the teams that upset Bafana have been so-called underdogs.
Coach Gordon Igesund is correct to be wary of their opponents in Group A. The decorated trainer has duly acknowledged that every single group is tough for all the teams, including his own.
That is why they will not take their opponents for granted.
Bafana, one of four seeded teams, were pooled in Group A with former champions Morocco, 2010 hosts Angola and rookies Cape Verde Islands.
Bafana open their account against surprise qualifiers and rookies Cape Verde Islands at Soccer City next year. It would be foolish for Bafana to underestimate their unheralded opponents. Enigmatic teams are less dangerous than the well-known.
A country with a population of 500,000 stunned former World Cup quarterfinalists Cameroon to qualify for the Afcon finals for the first time, so they are surely not coming to South Africa next year for sightseeing but to compete.
Though Bafana are in the Afcon finals without breaking a sweat - they qualified by virtue of being the hosts - they should take full advantage of their home turf and win the spectacle.
They have a wily coach,capable players and the home crowd will be behind them. We see no reason why they should not emulate the Class of 96.
They should do it for the country and their late assistant coach Thomas Madigage.
Good news is that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan yesterday announced the government would spend R460-million for the hosting of the tournament.
With the ground having been well prepared, we don't expect Bafana - who have become subject of all manner of jokes - to graze on it like cattle.
They should rather use it to show the nation what they are really capable of. There can be no better moment for redemption.