A NUMBER of local football legends have joined forces with Vodacom in a bid to get the nation firmly behind the national team.
The Vodacom Join the Voice behind Bafana Bafana campaign is a 10-week national event aimed at uniting South Africans behind the national soccer team.
An innovative and exciting element of the campaign will call on fans to SMS their messages of support for the national team, with the aim of recording 10 million SMSes.
Creative supporters will be rewarded with delightful prizes, including phones, Bafana Bafana jerseys (some of which will be signed) and all-expenses paid trips to meet some of the local soccer greats.
Phil Masinga, the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations winning striker, who netted the goal that took Bafana Bafana to their first World Cup in 1998, is delighted to be part of the project.
"Vodacom's involvement with the national team has been enormous since our return to the international fold. The company looked after us when I was still playing and were with us through the triumph of 1996. They have played an integral role in the development of the national team for many years, and it is an honour and a privilege for me to be part of this campaign."
The big centre forward, who turned out for Jomo Cosmos and Mamelodi Sundowns before moving overseas to play for Leeds United in England and Italian Serie A club Bari, said: "It is crucial for the team to ignore any negative publicity and just do its best on the pitch. They have to believe in themselves regardless."
Another hero of the class of 96, Mark Williams, whose brace of goals in the final against Tunisia secured the title on that momentous day 14 years ago, is also on board.
"I am here to demonstrate that I am behind the team and to encourage every South African to do the same.
"That opening match against Mexico is critical. If they win that one, it will ignite an inferno of hope from the entire population and that can spur them on to greater conquests, "Williams said.
"The knowledge that the whole country is behind them will make a huge difference to their confidence."
Tebogo Moloi, the gifted former Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates playmaker, said: "I am here to help make the country aware of the magnitude of the occasion that awaits us.
"The time is getting shorter and we are raising the level of excitement so that by the time we face Mexico on June 11 all South Africans will be in a frenzy of support for the players that will represent us on the field.
"I believe, having had the benefit of playing in South America, that what they learnt at the training camp in Brazil will get them ready for the World Cup. "Many people will be pleasantly surprised at the improvement in our standard of play, and I think that has brought us to the level required to overcome the likes of Mexico and Uruguay and get through to the next round."
The campaign, which started on April 16, runs until June 22. - Sowetan Reporter