Emotions to fuel Bafana in Durban today

2014-11-15 00:00

ALL eyes will be on Durban today when an emotionally charged Bafana Bafana look to book their spot at next year’s Africa Cup of Nations.

Moses Mabhida will be close to packed if not overflowing, and given the nature of the match and it serving as a tribute to the late Senzo Meyiwa, the atmosphere at the stadium has the potential to be haunting.

Sudan are in the unenviable position of visiting our shores on a day when Bafana will be as up for it as they ever have been. Bottom of the group and having lost 3-0 to Bafana at home in September, Sudan will surely be no match for Shakes Mashaba’s men. We may have seen enough over the years to no longer take anything for granted when it comes to Bafana, but today simply has to be a day when the boys stand up and give the country a performance to remember. The stage is set, the story has been written and all that is missing is the final act when the heroes emerge victorious.

Following Bafana’s movements in Durban this week, it has been revealing to see the effect that Meyiwa’s death has had on all of the players. The human aspect of sport has never been so apparent. All too often in the past we have given our national football team gears when it comes to doing things professionally, but they must be commended for the way that they have handled themselves this week. Whenever a player has been pressed on the Meyiwa issue, he has responded with calmness and maturity. The message has been clear: the best way to pay our respects to Meyiwa is with a win on Saturday.

One never likes to talk about gloomy situations like this, but imagine for a second that this ill-fated tragedy had struck the Springboks instead of Bafana. Imagine the Boks at Newlands against the All Blacks in honour of Jean de Villiers, and then imagine how absolutely pumped the men in green and gold would be for that game. It would be difficult to see anybody beating them in a situation like that. Hopefully we’ll never know.

Sudan are hardly a powerhouse of African football, but even that doesn’t detract from the enormity of today’s spectacle. A win for Bafana would see them qualify for their first major tournament since Afcon 2008, and real pride would be restored to the national jersey for the first time in years.

It has been a dark few weeks for South African football. Hopefully, after today, the clouds will have lifted and the sun will once again be shining on Mashaba and the promising start to his new era.

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