To not speak while you have food in your mouth is good manners, and so is to keep quiet when you have nothing good to say about someone or something.
The food-in-mouth that I’m talking about here, however, is the humble pie that is currently being chewed by the detractors of our national football team, affectionately known as Bafana Bafana. The same naysayers who often have nothing positive to say about our beloved team, often choosing to not see the team’s improvements and occasional good results.
Though I must admit that a lot of people’s negative perception of Bafana is caused by the team’s consistent poor performances over the years and it is therefore understandable that they would have very little confidence in it. But my problem is with the doubting Thomases who refuse to believe that things change in football and that bringing on board experienced coaches like Stuart Baxter can only mean progress.
I have one close detractor in particular, who is my colleague, who also happens to be a ‘Thomas’ when it comes to all things Bafana. He was also forced to enjoy, or is it endure, the humble pie after he refused to believe that something positive was going to come out of Bafana’s win over Nigeria in an Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier last Saturday.
Something positive indeed came out, and that historic win for our boys should give the non-believers reason to start having a bit more faith or, if not that, reason to start saying less bad things about the team.
Curtailing the negative talk is long overdue, I mean we’re now unbeaten in 18 matches! It’s also worth mentioning , lest we forget, that those 18 matches include a draw away at Burkina Faso in a World Cup 2018 qualifier, and a win against Senegal in the same qualifying campaign; the same Senegal that is in the list of the top 30 best national teams in the world – ranked 38 places above us!
In fact, these impressive results in our bid to qualify for Russia 2018 are part of what makes me confident that we have ‘turned the corner’, as it were, and that we’re going to qualify, for a change. I started feeling this confident in November last year, after that win against Senegal when the team was still under the tutelage of fired coach, Shakes Mashaba; and now that we have appointed a proven winner like Baxter, I feel even more amped-up about our chances.
I mean Baxter is the same guy who wasn’t given a chance by many when he came back into the country to take over the Kaizer Chiefs coaching job in the 2012-13 season. But at the end of his tenure he had won a total of 76 of the 125 matches in which he coached, according to kickoff.com, taking with him four trophies in three seasons in the process.
After the Chiefs assignment, he travelled across the Gauteng province to take over at SuperSport United, where he won the Nedbank Cup in his debut season. In this current season, he helped Matsatsantsa a Pitori to another Nedbank final while the team is currently in the group stages of the CAF Confederation Cup. Just to sensationalize it, let me add that we shouldn’t forget that in the Absa Premiership season that just concluded, he guided his SuperSport team to thrashing Orlando Pirates 6-0 in one of the earlier matches of the season – a result that proved to be too much for former Bucs coach Muhsin Ertugral, who afterwards quit his job on live television.
And now he goes on to help Bafana beat Nigeria for the first time in an official match, while keeping a clean sheet away from home … do I even need to sell him to you any further?
Let me just leave it here for you to digest it, if it’ll go down easier than the humble pie.
*Picture taken from bidvestwits.co.za.