Bafana Bafana

Bafana stumbled at the starting post

Shakes Mashaba (Gallo Images)
Shakes Mashaba (Gallo Images)

There is one item which under-fire coach Shakes Mashaba is correct about in relation to Bafana Bafana's 99% certain elimination from next year’s African Nations Cup Finals in Gabon.

And this is the incensed Mashaba's assertion that a substantial number of his mushrooming army of critics do not know what they are talking about.

Take, for example, the caustic comments and blistering headlines that have surfaced following the two draws against Cameroon this past week, among them  "Bungling Bafana fail", "Dismal draw sinks Bafana", "Bafana draw a blank", "Bafana blow it"... and so on and so on.

In truth, Bafana's performances in sharing the spoils with the talented "Indomitable Lions" were among the best the South African national soccer team has produced for a long time and, what is more, demonstrated a strong degree of determination, character and effort - even if that old bogey of shaky, ineffective finishing ultimately let them down in the end.

It was unfair on the players to degrade them in this manner, even if they failed in the quest to gain a minimum of four points from the games against Cameroon which would have left South Africa with an outside chance of making the trip to Gabon.

Where Bafana effectively signed their own demise from the Nations Cup was in the ineffectual opening qualifying 0-0 home qualifying draw against Gambia and the equally calamitous and lacklustre 3-1 defeat against Mauritania.

In both these games, against teams who are no more than minnows on the African continent, Bafana started out as though they expected victory to be no more than a formality - before sinking into a mire of indecision and aimlessness.

Old failings these, which only demonstrated that nothing much basic has changed in the South African soccer set-up - something for which SAFA must take a fair share of the blame.

It was unrealistic to expect anything more than that which Bafana produced against Cameroon, with Kekana and company entitled to hold up their heads with a measure of pride - even if they could not emerge with the targeted four points or better.

But in the wake of nationwide disappointment, they have been targeted as little more than buffoons, which is cruelly inappropriate for failing to rectify an already lost cause.

Remember the old adage "critics are the people who come out of the hills to shoot the wounded after the battle is over!"

And the battle, in this instance, was effectively lost some time ago!

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