Bafana’s time to ‘Show dem’ has come

2010-05-18 00:00

THE last bits of club football are nigh upon us, with the small matter of the Champions League and the Nedbank Cup finals wrapping things up on Saturday.

I will leave it to you to decide which is more important, but judging from the number of closet Amazulu fans who surfaced on Sunday morning, Jose Mourinho’s push for a treble will take a back seat to Usuthu’s first final in 18 years.

The penalty shootout that got Amazulu into the Soccer City showpiece was in keeping with a terrible day for spot kicks all round.

Kevin Prince-Boateng’s limp effort against Chelsea was followed by an equally poor shot by Frank Lampard. But Didier Drogba’s nifty free kick secured Chelsea’s double to cap a remarkable season.

But not before Salomon Kalou produced yet another candidate for miss of the season. I had almost pencilled it in for the greatest clanger of the entire campaign, but then a trip to the local Varsity league on the weekend proved that there is always a bigger howler just waiting to be exposed.

I won’t mention names, for the culprit is apparently still having nightmares about his meltdown. But you can imagine what his team-mates said when, with no keeper in sight, the man of the moment somehow managed to heel his attempted side-foot at a right angle, thus turning a certain goal into a near throw in. From three yards out.

You can’t even make these things up. But you have got to love the atmosphere at those campus derbies. Friends of friends pop in, still nursing hangovers from a few hours ago.

And absolutely everyone on the sidelines is an expert. I thought I was bad, but you could swear that the South African Football Association missed a trick by not hiring some of these chaps as consultants for Carlos Alberto Parreira. The state of the pitch, players’ weight, the quality of the officiating — nothing escapes their keen eyes. But, of course, none of them would dare step onto the pitch.

“Nah, it’s overrated. And besides, if I was playing, I would wipe the floor with these kids.”

Those were just some of the choice morsels served up as reasons for not being in the thick of the action. And don’t even get these boys started on their thoughts on the real stars.

“Arsenal will never win the league again.”

“Sir Alex Ferguson will never retire, unless he wins another treble.”

“Liverpool is not even in the big six anymore!”

It’s fascinating, and the conversation was going along swimmingly until someone mentioned Bafana Bafana’s chances in the World Cup. If you want to spark a debate, then throw the Bafana bone into a crowd that has a sprinkling of real fans and those who have jumped on the bandwagon in the past few weeks.

The hardened — and long suffering — fans will bluntly tell you that miracles do not come in doubles, and the fact that we are hosting the whole thing is enough of a gift.

So let’s not go expecting Bafana to trounce Mexico and sail into the semis.

The new brigade, armed with the “Show dem” routines, clearly watch too many soapies on SABC, for they can still see Madiba — not even the real, randy leader of this country — passing the cup on to Aaron Mokoena come July 11.

I didn’t even think grown-ups believe in fairy tales but, then again, this weekend was full of surprises.

Bafana actually scored, and scored plenty to go with it. Yes, it was against a country better equipped to scale walls and be extras in a Rush Hour sequel, but try tell that to the desperate masses.

Even Katlego Mphela’s very convincing Thierry Henry impression for the second “goal” went by unnoticed, as the entire country was just too relieved to care.

Dodgy goals and oppositions aside, Bafana’s win showed two things.

If they get lucky and make a good start, they will trigger an overwhelming mountain of support, which might just help them sneak into the next round.

The other revelation was made by coach Parreira, when he said he was pleased but not satisfied, as the team should have scored more goals.

It should have been a cricket score, and they will need to be as ruthless as an Afrikaner-laden Pommie cricket side if they plan to stick around for the second round.

And that’s as much as anyone should say about the cricket this week.

LUNGANI ZAMAThe Armchair Expert

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