As the boys fly home and country deals with its disappointment, beware of the lazy pundit with his lame attempt to feed you lies. It is true that your beloved Bafana Bafana only managed one point out of a possible nine as we got knocked out of the AFCON 2015’s group of death.
The lazy pundit would love for you to believe that there is something wrong with Southern African footballers, just because the only teams to come from this region participating in the AFCON 2015 got knocked out in the first round. He will try and convince you that there is something wrong with the players. In fact after sailing through the qualifiers with a game to spare, and great performances in the friendlies, before capitulating against Algeria; the lazy pundit will try to assign a label like “chokers.” He will come up with some crazy explanation about what Shakes Mashaba was thinking.
Let me tell you something.
Show me anybody who tells you that they know what Shakes Mashaba is thinking or what he is going to do; and I will show you a liar. The man is almost as unpredictable as the Cape Doctor, and that’s why he is good at what he does. That’s why he is the longest serving coach in this country.
As for the labels, that’s just a mark of an irrational argument. Because the foundation of such postulate is solely established on the idea that Bafana Bafana plays the way they do because they are South African. I call this irrational because it is almost as ridiculous an assertion as racism or xenophobia. People don’t do things a certain way because they are born a certain way. They do things a certain way and happen to be born a certain way.
Are you with me?
Fellow South Africans I beg you. As pessimists and naysayers masquerading as experts, serve you lies. Have the courage of conviction to fortify your love for Bafana Bafana by remembering the truth. The truth as you and I know it is as follows:
- Remember that this is a team put together by a coach who had two weeks from date of appointment to prepare for his first qualifiers.
- Remember that this is a team that was picked out of a pool of players which was plagued with perpetual injuries all season long. Players like Khune, Parker, Matlaba, Khumalo and so on were not always available due to injury. That’s just bad luck.
- Remember that this is a team which had to deal with the death of a captain just as they were finding their rhythm. In fact since the death of Senzo Meyiwa, we have never had the privilege of playing a consistent set of players in the defensive pack for three consecutive matches. Every second game a player was either injured or unavailable and so someone else had to slot in, thus affecting the unit. So it is just easy to argue that every goalkeeper he fielded conceded a goal. But every goalkeeper played with a different back four.
- Remember that despite our strong performance in the qualifiers it was just our bad luck that we managed to end up in the toughest group of the tournament. The group was so difficult that with ten minutes before the end of the game, the group could still end either way.
- Remember that Yeye Letsholonyane’s red card in the game against Nigeria and Mathoho’s two yellows made the fielding of a team in the first game against Algeria even trickier.
- Remember that Sibusiso Khumalo and Patrick Phungwayo’s injury meant that we had to play with a makeshift left wing in Oupa Manyisa in order to protect a less than 100% Thabo Matlaba.
- Remember in every match since Cameroon, we sustained major injuries to key players in the team. Rivaldo Cotzee twice, Tokelo Rantie and Bernard Parker against Cameroon. Thulani Hlatswayo’s concussion against Senegal, Oupa Manyisa’s knee in training and not forgetting Eric Mathoho with his bleeding head.
So, when the dooms day prophets gather over the AFCON 2015 carcass, give you an autopsy laden with the venom of self contempt, remember the truth. This AFCON 2015 was a campaign just riddled with bad luck. And as they try to convince you that Shakes Mashaba failed us, remember the immortal words of Cassper Nyovest in Tsibip:
“…Tswaknation, are you a resident? Or are you making the circle bigger like mini-Man?”