Bafana Bafana let down by its own supporters

Sports Sermon


The South African Football Association (Safa) scored another spectacular own goal this week when Bafana Bafana supporters were outnumbered in their own backyard by the visiting DR Congo fans at the Orlando Stadium.

Bafana were playing against the dribbling wizards from central Africa in a friendly international fixture that resulted in the South Africans stretching their unbeaten run to nine matches.

Coach Hugo Broos registered a slender 1-0 win, an impressive feat in that they have not lost a single match since the first round of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in 2022 in Rabat in June last year.  

Bafana are on an upwardly mobile trajectory but the fans, especially the ones up in the Reef, are lodging a stayaway. It is in these times that one would expect the team to be drawing large numbers of supporters to their matches. There has always been cries that soccer matches must be taken to the people’s doorsteps – well the two matches against Namibia and Congo tell a different story.

They were played in the Mecca of SA soccer, the Orlando Stadium, fondly and affectionately known as “Es’godini saka Maminzela”. That is where Orlando Pirates used to slaughter teams, figuratively, and sometimes, literally. That is where the likes of Percy “Chippa Chippa” Moloi and Jomo Sono enthralled thousands of supporters.

It is the same ground that Kaizer Motaung flew on the left wing and endeared newly-formed Kaizer Chiefs onto millions of supporters.

People in Soweto can walk across to the stadium, but surely, they had better things to do than watch Bafana. These are the results and after-effects of residual and lingering incompetence, not caring, and not giving a damn about the national team from the powers that be. In the last couple of decades, Bafana had been turned into a laughingstock – this is all the while Banyana Banyana were rising and winning major tournaments. 

Gauteng number one citizen Panyana Lesufi says Safa’s head honchos must not just pick opponents willy-nilly and bring just about anyone to play against Bafana. “If Bafana were playing against England or against Brazil, do you think FNB Stadium would be empty?

“The questions should be directed at the people that are identifying and choosing friendly games for Bafana. I really believe that they are rushing and they do not make sure that they are providing proper competition for Bafana,” argues Lesufi.

While I do not agree wholeheartedly with the premier, a fact is that lately, Bafana are turning things around, and they are becoming competitive, and no one seems to care or know.

There’s huge marketing drive that needs to be implemented to revive the awareness and to inform people that the sleeping giant is slowly but surely waking up. First, enhance the marketing drive. The games need to be promoted on television and also broadcast live on mainstream channels – and not on some obscure and ambiguous digital sports channels. There could be competitions and ticket give aways – some people love freebies more than their children.

Second, there needs to be activations in nearby malls and business districts. Take the game to the people, put it in their face and irritate them. This most embarrassing situation of Tuesday should not happen again – it is just discomforting.

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