Pressing Issues: This is the kind of patriotic spirit we need in our country

2014-05-26 12:00

What do Buhlebuyeza Wilson Mkhwanazi, Sibusiso Blessing Khumalo, Siyabonga Nhlapho, Siphelele Mthembu and Themba Zwane have in common?

Well, they are all Premier Soccer League (PSL) players, something you might have figured by now. They are also young.

But most importantly, they raised their hands when an unprecedented number of top South African players showed the country the middle finger and came up with an assortment of reasons for not being able to honour the two international friendly matches against Australia and New Zealand down under this week.

These young players did not mind the late call-ups and all heeded coach Gordon Igesund’s clarion call to arms.

This is the kind of patriotic spirit we need in our country, whose freedom was won through blood, sweat and tears. Why, there are even martyrs who died for us to gain the freedom we have today, which some already take for granted and even snort at.

Mthembu related to the small media contingent that has travelled with Bafana Bafana how he had to leave home in Glencoe (KwaZulu-Natal Midlands) at 4am for the two-hour drive to the Pietermaritzburg Airport to catch the first flight out, without a booking, after receiving his call-up.

My eyes became moist with tears.

Here was a young man who knew that such opportunities are rare and need to be grabbed with both hands when they come.

While many have scoffed at these matches, there might be a pleasant surprise for the players who will feature.

For starters, South Africa is about to engage in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers and, based on their performances in these two friendlies this week, these players might cement their places in that team.

But even before we get to Afcon, who knows who will be watching – more especially the match against the Socceroos, as they have qualified for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and are pitted against world and European champions Spain, the Netherlands and Chile in their group.

This means all three of these countries will be interested in getting as much information as possible about Australia. So watching every match involving them would be a necessity.

There might even be interest from countries that are in other groups and would like to be well prepared, just in case Australia somehow makes it through to the World Cup’s group stages.

And therein lies the rub. The young South African players’ performances might just catch the roving eye of a talent scout who will be on a different mission. Some might just dismiss this as stuff that dreams are made of. But dreams do come true.

And in the company of the likes of Thulani Caleb Serero – arguably the best South African export at the moment – veterans Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Thabo Nthethe, Thuso Phala and Hlompho Alpheus Kekana – they can learn a lot of stuff that will be beneficial in their careers going forward.

There are also players that, for lack of a better word, one can call “young veterans” such as Senzo Robert Meyiwa, Anele Calvin Ngcongca, Ayanda Patosi and Tokelo Anthony Rantie.

All in all, anyone who responds positively when their country calls deserves respect, and these youngsters must get just that.?Maybe their timing will also prove to be right as there are players who have reached their sell-by dates as members of Bafana Bafana.

And, who knows, they might just have opened the door for some fresh air.

By the time the qualifiers come in September, Igesund may no longer be at the helm of the national team, but whoever comes in would have seen or even heard about this group that stood up when they were needed most.

Good luck in the match against the Socceroos tomorrow as well as on Friday against the Kiwis.

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