This week will go down as one to forget for Bafana Bafana’s newly appointed coach Molefi Ntseki because of the ripple effects of the xenophobic violence that has spread across the country over the past few weeks.
Ntseki and the team were looking forward to breaking the ice and taking to the field with renewed enthusiasm.
Bafana needed the best preparations possible to sharpen up for their crucial back-to-back 2021 Afcon qualifiers against Ghana away and Sudan at home in November.
Reflecting on the trail of destruction around the country, I picked up a common theme that we tend to master as a nation – destroying what belongs to us as a way to vent our frustrations.
This brings me to a specific point I want to raise – the majority of South Africans have turned their backs on Bafana for some time.
Granted, the people’s attitude is as a result of the team’s underwhelming performances – despite having reached the Afcon quarterfinals in Egypt recently.
However, I feel the time has come for us to change our attitude towards the national soccer team and offer our outmost support to Ntseki and the boys.
The timing is also perfect – we have to step in as the country is lacking any kind of harmony right now.
When Safa announced last Saturday that it had appointed Ntseki the new Bafana head coach, it was only natural that opinions would be divided. However, some of the reactions were way over the top.
The question of who Molefi Ntseki is can either be a valid one, or it could be mischievous.
As a football-loving nation, we are sometimes quick to forget our wishes, one being that our national team should be guided by a locally born coach.
We’ve got one now, but it seems it’s still not good enough as shots have already been fired at the man before a single official ball has been kicked under his stewardship.
A coach is judged by the results, and it is up to Ntseki to prove his worth.
Those who are surprised by his appointment are either not well informed or are just plain ignorant when it comes to the contribution Ntseki made while toiling behind the scenes in the Bafana set-up.
Clearly, he has served his apprenticeship. For those of us who are privileged enough to follow Bafana, I can assure the nation that the players have shown very positive signs under him.
It was a short camp, but the spirit was apparent all round.
The players have embraced the new coach and the tactics they were working on pointed towards a true South African football identity.
This should serve as the first sign that will convince us as a nation to wear our hearts on our sleeves.
On a different note, kudos to Pitso Mosimane and Steve Komphela for taking a stance as coaches and leading the denunciation of the xenophobic attacks and gender-based violence that have traumatised the country recently.
Safa also added its voice on the matter by declaring that enough is enough.
Football has proved many times to be a unifier.
After all, our very own PSL is littered with players from different parts of the continent.
Some have become local heroes because they have endeared themselves to the football fans purely on their exploits on the field of play.
Zimbabwean Under-23 coach Tonderai Ndiraya couldn’t have summed it up better this week. He was in the country for Friday’s Afcon Under-23 qualifier against South Africa and said that the whole country should not be tarred with the same brush.
So, let us not make Bafana the property that we torch in anger, only to regret our actions later.
Giving Bafana some love can go a long way towards helping us rebuild the country and bring back unity within our communities.