A lot has changed in four years

2014-06-14 00:00

THERE was a slight, yet inescapable feeling of nostalgia that accompanied sitting down to watch the Fifa World Cup opener between Brazil and Croatia on Thursday night

2010 seems like such a long time ago now, and it is difficult to compare this World Cup to that one for the most obvious of reasons. We were a nation saturated in all of the colours of the world in June 2010, and we now find ourselves light years from the festivities in Brazil. The passion for the game is still there amongst the diehards who are prepared to brave the cold and stay up for the late kick-offs, but nothing that this tournament offers will ever compete with what we all went through in 2010. I still think of the Tshabalala goal with the fondest memories and I shiver every time. It was the moment when football made the ground shake, when a country roared together and we were all, for a few minutes, on the same page celebrating the same thing.

Four years later it seems like we have inherited nothing from that time. We didn’t use it to build and we discarded the lessons that were taught to us as soon as the world’s attention moved somewhere else. Our national time has done nothing to inspire us since then — bar a mini-run at Afcon 2013 — and we find ourselves sitting in the same quicksandish puddle of mediocrity that we were in before we took on the world in 2010.

Cries for development and structures and the appropriate use of funds and academies and coaches and a lack of greed amongst the country’s footballing administrators are falling on deaf ears. There seems, at times, to be no hope.

The passion and emotion that we saw painted all over the faces of our Bafana boys in 2010 is not seen anymore. Mediocrity. We are not only not in the World Cup this year, but we are also currently without a coach. Gordon has been sent packing and rumours are still rife that his replacement will be current Iran coach – yip, even they made it to Brazil — Carlos Queiroz. The thing about Queiroz is that he was sacked by Safa just before the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan after earning us qualification for that tournament. So, 12 years later, Bafana could be turning back to the man who they let go on the eve of a major tournament. That was the last time Bafana qualified for a World Cup.

Being a part of Russia 2018 will and must be the priority for whoever the new coach is. If the opening stages of Brazil 2014 have taught us anything, it is that it hurts not having a flag flying amongst the 32 at a World Cup.

It hurts even more when you consider that just four years ago, almost to the day, Bafana Bafana were at the centre of the football universe.

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