SA beaten on and off the field in Cairo

Ivory Coast's Jonathan Kodjia shrugs off South Africa's Buhle Mkhwanazi before firing home the only goal of the match during an Afcon Groud D encounter in Cairo on June 24 2019.
Ivory Coast's Jonathan Kodjia shrugs off South Africa's Buhle Mkhwanazi before firing home the only goal of the match during an Afcon Groud D encounter in Cairo on June 24 2019.
Image: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Bafana Bafana lost the battle on and off the field against Ivory Coast in their Africa Cup of Nations opener at Al-Salaam Stadium yesterday.

It was always going to be a close match - with Bafana going down 1-0, considering the history between the two sides in that Bafana had never lost to the Elephants in six outings (two wins and four draws for the South Africans).

But what Bafana lack - home or away, is the support that they desperately need to give them the encouragement, especially when the chips are down.

Of course Ivory Coast are not going to claim they had big numbers, but they had better numbers than Bafana.

In fact, before the match started Bafana had only three familiar faces on the stands - Botha Msila, Masilo Machaka and Diana Matli, popularly known as Lady D.

While the Ivorian fans beat the drums and sang before the match, the SA section, small as it was, had to go around getting their Zimbawean brothers and sisters to come give them a helping hand.

In the end, the Zimbabweans took over the singing and even when their SA counterparts initiated the Shosholoza song, it was quickly drowned out.

"We borrowed the supporters from Zimbabwe," admitted Machaka.

It begs the question; where are the SA people to come back the team?

While even impoverished Kenya has managed to dig into their coffers to send their people to support the Harambee Stars and when we left the stadium, the Ivorians were travelling in their own bus, the handful of SA fans took a private car back to their hotel.

Besides the results, this is SA's sad reality.

SA supporters are very critical of the team, but even those that can afford to travel would rather watch from the comfort of their homes.

It's the same old story and it's high time the role, or lack thereof, of supporters is questioned.

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