Bafana Bafana, win this one and restore faith

Bafana Bafana players and coach Stuart Baxter during their Afcon opening match against Cote d'Ivoire on Monday June 24, 2019.
Bafana Bafana players and coach Stuart Baxter during their Afcon opening match against Cote d'Ivoire on Monday June 24, 2019.
Image: Ahmed Hasan/Gallo Images

Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter complains about South African football fans being impatient with the national team.

He says the national soccer team does not get support it should from the 53-million people that make up this country's population.

Instead, he basically says, we are ready to pounce on the players, the coaches and their bosses the moment Bafana loses a game.

There is nothing wrong with the coach calling on supporters to back the national team, especially when it is engaged in a difficult battle to qualify for the next round of a major tournament such as the Africa Cup of Nations.

Every patriotic South African should back Bafana Bafana or any other national squad representing us in international tournaments.

But what Baxter and his players should remember is that South Africa went to this year's tournament still nursing many wounds caused by Bafana Bafana's disappointing performance in previous competitions.

When it comes to Bafana, South Africans now almost always expect that the team's chances of going to the next round to be minimal.

The last game in almost every first round we are involved in is played with many fans armed with their calculators and analysing different permutations based on the results of other teams. Our fate is often not in our hands.

So when Bafana lost to the Ivory Coast this week, it was the case of déjà vu for many of us. The negative reaction to the loss must be understood in this context.

It does not mean that the nation does not support its national team.

In fact, despite disappointments, the Bafana brand remains one of the most popular sports brand in the country.

What the coach and his team need to do is to win back the confidence of the nation and make people believe that they can win games in major tournaments.

That process must start this evening when Bafana take on Namibia is n their second game at the tournament. It is a must win game, given that in Group D Ivory Coast and Morocco are already on three points.

Winning tonight's game will not only put us in a good position to advance to the next round, it will boost the supporters' morale back home and make fans back our boys once again. Kubo Bafana!

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