Bafana Bafana: The pride of the nation

2014-11-23 15:00

There is nothing as sweet as a hard-earned victory. Ask Bafana Bafana. They should be over the moon at qualifying for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea.

Unlike the past – where we have taken part in major tournaments because we have been hosts – coach Shakes Mashaba and his bunch of Bafana winners have made the country proud.

The last time we won to qualify in the tournament was in 2008. In fact, Mashaba was the last local coach to qualify for this tournament in 2004 – but he could not go with the team after he was sacked from his job.

Fast-forward to this year. Mashaba led the South African team to qualification without losing a game in the group stages of the competition.

What made this sweeter was the fact that it came at the cost of Bafana’s nemesis – Nigeria’s Super Eagles – who will not get a chance to defend their crown. And Bafana had a hand in that after the 2-2 draw in Nigeria on Wednesday.

Although Bafana failed to beat the Super Eagles, it mattered little as the draw was not enough for Nigeria to qualify for the tournament.

Bafana striker Tokelo Rantie’s brace was the first time Bafana had scored a goal in Nigeria since the country’s readmission to international football in 1992.

While on the campaign trail, Mashaba was brave enough to rebuild the team from scratch, trusting his young soldiers and preparing them for war.

He gave an opportunity to average players like Rantie, unknown ones such as Moeketsi Sekola and David Zulu, and even threw uncapped 17-year-old Rivaldo Coetzee into the mix.

Most coaches would have gone with a more experienced team.

Now that Bafana have reinvented themselves, all that remains is for the country to get behind the team in their quest for continental glory next year.

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