25 January 2013

Uganda: Afcon - Host Fans' Opinions Change


Nelspruit — ISN'T it funny how just 90 minutes of football can change so many people's ideas about a team?

Just before Wednesday, I had lost count of the number of South Africans telling me just how bad their team was in the 2013 Orange Nations Cup.

The truth is few South Africans believed in the Bafana Bafana!

Those that travelled to the Moses Mabhida Stadium were purely there for the party. The fans and the media felt Bafana had nothing to offer against Angola. That on the evidence of their display in the opening game against Cape Verde, coach Gordon Igesund and team were destined for further humiliation.

"Bafana is so bad. We have no strategy, we can't score. There is no hope," one local had hinted earlier.

Bafana are the best

What happens 24 hours later? What do the same fans do after that remarkable 2-0 win over Angola? Simple! Switch posts and in a dramatic turnaround hail the Bafana Bafana as the Brazilians of old, a side capable of upstaging any team in the world.

Since yesterday night, it has been proud South Africans everywhere. The Bafana jersey is the number one item.

Both fans and media are already predicting a run to the final. To them, not even the star-studded Ivory Coast can stand in their way.

That Lehlohonolo Majoro (the guy that scored the second after coming on) is too good, far better than Gervinho and Didier Drogba combined. Talk of typical fans indeed. But it's why I love sport.

Gorgeous summer

Bafana have four points with Morocco to play at the same venue on Sunday night. They need only a point to advance to the quarterfinals. That, they will achieve.

Someone hung up a banner inside the Mabhida before kickoff against Angola to advertise the 2022 winter Olympics in Krakow, Poland. But Durban was about as far from winter as you can get, a gorgeous sweltering summer's day.

The Stadium was not as full at the start as most Durbanites were still at work. And yet when Siyabonga Swangweni struck, the noise could probably have been heard across the Zulu Kingdom.

It might be a long way to go for the Bafana, but this was a big step in the right direction.

I am in Nelspruit, my favourite host city, thanks to the huge Ethiopian community, looking forward to the double-header at the Mbombela.

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