Bafana's baptism of fire - Screamer walked a tight rope
BAFANA Bafana's first coach, Stanley "Screamer" Tshabalala, had the honour of selecting and coaching the country's national team in their first-ever international against Cameroon 20 years ago this week.
In our continuing series marking the occasion, he reflects on the day, and how far we've come.
On the distinction of being the first national team coach:
"Of course it was an honour to be the first but it wasn't easy. Because of our oppression in the past and the fact we played only among ourselves, we quickly learnt that it was not as easy to play international soccer as we first thought it would be.
"I also selected my first national team to be a bit more representative of the clubs, so I might not have had the best players for each position. It was a bit of a case of the one-eyed man leading the blind because of our inexperience but I still believe the Class of 96 (that won the Africa Nations Cup) had its foundation laid early on in that first very first game."
On the pressure of the job:
"It was a lot different to the time I had coached Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns because everybody had a say around the team. It wasn't just a case of having to deal with one club's supporters but instead it was the whole country."
On the first game against Cameroon on July 7 1992:
"The feeling of walking out with the first-ever national team is one that will stay with me until I die. Kings Park was packed and to take the team out against the Indomitable Lions was sensational. Then we beat them 1-0 and I thought we could do really well but it was not to be. But on that day every player lived up to expectations - they all played with an extra spring in their step."
On the national team 20 years later:
"We can still do much better. Now we cannot make the excuse that the players are inexperienced or don't know about African football.
"What we need is to get the balance right."
lThis is the third of our daily pieces marking the 20th anniversary of the country's readmission to the global game