The good, bad and ugly

2013-02-10 10:00

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The Premier Soccer League has always taken flak for poor attendances yet even a continental football spectacle could not attract supporters.

The 29th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) has demonstrated that the quality of football displayed in the Absa Premiership is not the reason supporters stay at home.

South African supporters are quick to take to social media and radio talk shows to complain about the poor standard of local football.

Yet many were nowhere to be seen at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace when two-time African Player of the Year Yaya Touré and former recipient Didier Drogba were in Phokeng.

It was the same in Port Elizabeth, where the best African team of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, Ghana, was based.

And what was delivered on the field was top-class football.

Bafana’s showing was nothing extraordinary.

They showed that they are good at raising hopes and then dashing them.

Bafana played the same promising brand of football under World Cup-winning coach Carlos Parreira, but then never achieved.

It was the same under Pitso Mosimane, except for one game against Ethiopia.

Now Gordon Igesund has assumed the same team with the same mentality.

The only good thing to come out of Bafana’s participation in the tournament was the discovery of Dean Furman and May Mahlangu.

Igesund has some tough decisions to make going forward as some players seem to have reached a cul-de-sac.

THE GOOD

Bafana supporters were magnificent in rallying behind their team.

A full Moses Mabhida Stadium was a constant sight as South Africans of all colours united behind Bafana.

After years of suffering and seeing their national team in decline – missing out on the last edition co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon – Nigeria’s Super Eagles brought back the happy days, reaching their first final in 13 years.

Not many would have placed their hard-earned money on Burkina Faso reaching the final.

But they defied all odds, topping a group that included Nigeria, defending champions Zambia and eventually reaching today’s final.

Ethiopia endeared themselves to many followers with their entertaining brand of football and their supporters also filled the Mbombela and Royal Bafokeng stadiums.

Not much was known about the Walia Antelopes before, but they left a mark.

Who can ever forget the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde, who also surpassed expectations in their maiden Afcon? Coached by an air traffic controller, Lúcio Antunes, they reached the quarterfinals.

THE BAD

Ethiopia supporters turned from heroes to zeroes by throwing missiles on to the pitch in their game against Zambia.

They were fined $5?000 (R45?000). Ethiopia was also the only side to have two players sent off when both of their goalkeepers were red-carded in different matches.

Port Elizabeth and Rustenburg had the best players on display – but played to empty stands.

THE UGLY

The referees were a downside.

The Confederation of African Football needs to up its game on refereeing as teams were at the receiving end of dubious and questionable decisions.

The referees were a law unto themselves and hid behind the-referee’s-decision-is-final call.

Mbombela’s pitch was another talking point.

The sandy pitch made playing difficult and was condemned by many, including Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor, who called it bush, while others called it a beach.

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