No more excuses from our boys

2013-03-23 00:00

THIS is one game that they must win and win it convincingly if they are nursing any serious ambitions of being one of the 32 nations in Brazil next year.

For far too long, the national soccer team has flattered to deceive.

Lying third in their Group A qualifying with two points from two outings, they need victory to overtake CAR, who have three from the same number of matches.

Should Bafana fail to win, they can kiss a place in the five African slots goodbye. This would be sad for a team whose bark has been more than its bite for far too long.

It will also be a disappointment for Cape Town supporters who came out in big numbers for the team’s last visit to the magnificent Cape Town Stadium. Which I must add, they left disappointed following another defeat (to Norway) ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations.

They also did not cover themselves in glory despite massive support from the nation during this tournament.

While players are called “boys” and even South African Football Association (Safa) president Kirsten Nematandani is wont to point out that “they are our children”, fact is, they are actually adults. Professionals at that, who get paid millions.

It is high time they rise to the challenges and give people their money’s worth.

Bafana have no business sitting where they are on the log, a group that is led by Ethiopia, who have collected four points so far, one of the points being from a draw they played in Rustenburg against the same South Africa.

It is high time that the players took it upon themselves and wore the national jersey with pride. Show courage that is tantamount to being prepared to die for their country. Soccer is their God-given talent and they should utilise it to their best.

Qualifying for next year’s World Cup must be one of the dreams they are prepared to die for. Should they fail, most of them will not be around — as players that is — for the next shindig in Qatar in 2018.

Failure to qualify would mean that Bafana Bafana have failed for four consecutive global and continental tournaments (2006 World Cup, 2010 and 2012 Afcons), except the 2010 World Cup and the 2013 Afcon that South Africa only qualified for by hosting.

They need to take up the cudgels, take their fate into their own hands by winning against CAR in Cape Town, away in the next match in June and aim to win all their remaining fixtures.

Time for depending on other teams and other results must be a thing of the past.

We need a Bafana team that will give us confidence that they are prepared to die with their boots on.

Changing coaches at the drop of the hat has proven not to be a solution. While the tendency is always to fire the coach for the players’ underperformance, it is high timer the status quo changed.

They must shoulder some responsibility. And the match against CAR is a good platform for them to do this.

South African football followers have tolerated mediocrity for quite some time with our national team losing to countries whose players should not even be fit to carry soccer boots for some of our national stars.

It is high time the players rose to the occasion and showed us that we should treat them with respect. We cannot afford them this, unless they show it on the field of play.

Lest they do the talking with their feet, some people will continue to treat them with contempt and doubt what the star treatment they are given is based on.

It’s time to shine Bafana!

S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa’s leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is currently City Press sports editor.

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