Skipper Thulani Hlatshwayo keeps faith in SA

Bafana Bafana captain Thulani Hlatshwayo.
Bafana Bafana captain Thulani Hlatshwayo.
Image: GALLO IMAGES

It's business as usual in the Seychelles and the tiny nation's goalless draw against Bafana Bafana on Tuesday is already a distant memory.

Even the locals don't comment on the draw that is as big as a win for the islanders, despite the fact that they are already eliminated from the race to qualify for 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

People mind their own business in this Indian Ocean island nation that is home to less than 100 000 people, and football does not take pride of place.

It's in South Africa, home to more than 50-million people, where the beautiful game has the players in a cat-and-mouse situation with the fans.

And Bafana skipper Thulani Hlatshwayo has already noticed the fans' reaction on social media, which could go on for weeks until second-placed Bafana host Nigeria at the FNB Stadium on November 17.

Depending on the result against the Super Eagles, Bafana could earn some praise if they win, or the mocking will continue unabated.

Whatever Hlatshwayo says now may fall on deaf ears, but he insisted while chatting to Sowetan that the fans have a big role to play in future games, starting against Nigeria.

The turnout was low when Bafana beat Seychelles 6-0 at the FNB Stadium on Saturday.

"There's no time for excuses right now. We just need to focus on the next game," Hlatshwayo said.

"We are on social media and a lot is being said about the team that we drew against, [with some calling them] fishermen, because they play football part-time and we play it for a living.

"They [fans] just need to support us," appealed the man from Senaoane, Soweto, adding that the national team needed support, especially when playing at home.

To their credit, Bafana beat Nigeria 2-0 away in their first match of the qualifiers and for Hlatshwayo, who also played in that match in Uyo last year, there's hope of Bafana qualifying despite struggling against weak opposition.

He has faith in the team.

"You know, we all come from different teams and we are doing it for our nation.

"Yes, I may have something against Rama [Mphahlele], but we have one goal... to make sure the country goes forward.

"It's an honour to represent the country and we must make sure it does well," Hlatshwayo explained.

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