SA FOOTBALL: Bafana Bafana vs Norway at Cape Town Stadium

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Bafana Bafana lost 1-0 in a friendly match against Norway on Tuesday night. The match is part of the teams preparation for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations starting on the 19th of January.

Bafana Bafana lost 1-0 in a friendly match against Norway on Tuesday night. The match is part of the teams preparation for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations starting on the 19th of January.

Despite the great weather and a large crowd turnout, the boys in green and gold could not get the ball across the line on the day and lost their friendly Pre-AFCON match against Norway 1-0. But then many predicted Bafana would be crushed by the young Nordic Vikings. It was always going to be tough for Bafana who have gone through difficult times, with media and fans alike not sparing any punches in criticizing the players, tactics, team selection and general attitude. Bafana are ranked 87th in the world and have not covered themselves in much glory. Facing up to Norway at 24th was never going to be easy. It’s a bit like having Bolt race against Forrest Gump. It should be a no brainer, but we live in eternal hope that our National side will perform miracles.

The saga goes beyond the team itself, with SAFA officials currently under investigation for match fixing charges dating back to a few friendlies pre 2010 World Cup. Coaches, local and foreign, come and go faster than a hooker on Main road in Green Point. Each picking up a handsome retirement package on their way out after not really delivering anything worthy of their pay cheques.

In fact I think in the last 10 years, we may have had more coaches than players. The drama is still there and may continue like a badly written Nigerian soap opera for a while, but we would like to believe that their is light at the end of the gloomy tunnel.

Bafana fans working their Vuvuzelas.

Bafana fans working their Vuvuzelas.

For one, we have Gordon Igesund, the latest coach, who has an impressive CV both as a player and coach. He seems motivated beyond the juicy pay cheque. Gord and I shared the same view last night, although we seem to be in the minority here. I thought that Bafana played OK-ish. Everyone thought they were going to get hammered. They didn’t. So they never scored a goal, (despite sniffing at the posts a few dozen times), but that too will come. They looked promising, they had all the control in most of the first half. Not sure what went wrong with the Nordic goal towards the end of the first half. I missed it whilst queuing for a beer. Which I never got as they had sold out. (It’s true.) They ran out of beer. And I missed the only goal.

Recently our national cricket team was taken over by a new coach, and we have an even newer T20 coach. Both are taking a long term view on preparations for their players and the team. Why should we expect Bafana to be any different. Give the men a chance. Lets throw eggs if they have not moved up from the eighties in a years time at least….

Some bloke, Mike Fraser, makes an interesting point on what work needs to go into the development of juniors in this country. It’s part of the big picture. The rest of the world sees it. We can’t expect the national coach to teach them the basics at this level. (Round ball, over line, into net and preferably not your own). Despite his pay cheque.
A comprehensive Youth program for all sports can only be a good thing. The Aussies seem to have mastered it. And if we are not careful, more of our young players will be poached at school level by foreign scouts.

35000 fans out to support Bafana vs Norway at Cape Town Stadium

35000 fans out to support Bafana vs Norway at Cape Town Stadium

Another positive, the numbers that arrived to support the game of football was great. Mexican waves, crowds singing Shosholoza, earplug wearing tourists looking perplexed by the blowing vuvuzelas, a drum beating, dancing group of Kaizer Chiefs fans behind the goal, flag waving fans dressed in yellow and green. It was loud and wonderful. It fizzled a bit as the chances of a tie breaking goal dwindled, but nevertheless, there was still an energetic mass launching of spectators out of their seats every time Bafana took a shot at goal.

Whoever said no-one would go watch soccer at the “new” stadium, I hope you’re choking on your words right now. Around 35000 fans, for a rugby mad nation in Cape Town, where the weather determines what we do at the last minute, that’s not bad. All the naysayers who said the stadium would never work. It’s great. And eventually, the “reluctant to change” old foggarts on the other side of the mountain will have to concede that despite the sentiment attached to Newlands WP rugby stadium, it is becoming a shabby piece of 19-whenever architecture, lacking modern, world class facilities and probably not even adhering to adequate safety recommendations. Unless you’re one of the spoilt bastards in the larney suites, sipping your G&T, eating stodgy pies, you have to fight your way down to the bomb shelter bar, to guzzle down your beer as you can’t take it into the stadium. Then wrestle your way through the sweaty rugby jersey wearing masses to your seat, by which time half the match is over. Lets not even get into the nightmare parking, traffic and exiting procedures.
It’s served its purpose, now move on. Sell it, break it down, develop it into gated communities, shopping centres, old age home or a Youth Sports Development Centre and come play at a proper stadium.

Cape Town Stadium

Cape Town Stadium

Bafana Fans

Bafana Fans

All good for an evening’s entertainment, sport and socializing, except the organizers ran out of beer. Apparently SAFA also forgot to arrange adequate catering of any kind for the Norwegian delegates and last minute crisis plans had to be put into action. The Stadium ran out of beer. I know I’ve said that. And I’ll say it again. They ran out of BEER. SAB? SAFA? Stadium organizers. Who are you? How do you run out of beer by half time on a hot summers day? No beer. Damn we hate that.

So Bafana fans it’s not all doom and gloom. Besides, what’s wrong with expecting the odd miracle? It’s not that they don’t have the talent. We’ll continue to support Bafana. For now. But Gordon – please do something right before you too bugger off like a hooker with a rash and a good pay cheque and lets see these boys make themselves and their country proud.

Did I mention they ran out of BEER?

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