South Africa will have a new nickname for its ailing national soccer team – if SA Football Association president Danny Jordaan gets his wish.
On Monday, Jordaan gave the strongest indication yet that Safa was seriously considering ditching Bafana Bafana as the men’s national soccer team’s pet name, following their embarrassing elimination from the African Nations Championships on Sunday.
“We must consider changing the name and we have to review the preparations, the philosophy and technical staff of the team,” he said.
He reiterated this yesterday in an interview with The Star.
“Bafana played in three World Cups, and the names (of national teams) have an international brand. We have to take that into account,” he said.
He added that even former president Thabo Mbeki “was clear that we should have another name (instead of Bafana Bafana)”.
In 2007, Mbeki called on the national team to drop its name, saying the name Bafana was unsuitable.
Bafana Bafana is an Nguni expression that loosely translates as “the boys”.
“What kind of a name is it? I don’t think it is fit for a senior national team or for the hosts of the 2010 Fifa World Cup,” Mbeki said at the time.
The team has been using it since its readmission to international football in 1992.
“We need to revisit the names of teams like Bafana Bafana, Banyana Banyana and Amaglug-glug (the men’s under-23 football team),” Mbeki had said.
The under-20s are alternatively known as Amajita, township slang for streetwise young men.
Mbeki had also emphasised the importance of involving the public through a national debate.
He received the backing of soccer legend Jomo Sono, the then Bafana coach.
“I support the president 100 percent. We also need to change the colours of the team and get something close to, or similar to, the Boks, which is a source of national pride and represents the country.
“Everyone knows the springbok is an African animal, and green is our grass in the fields here. But what does Bafana Bafana mean?” Sono asked at the time.
Jordaan said there were some names on the table that were put forward during Mbeki’s era.
“We do own the rights to the Bafana Bafana name now, and we are considering these names. The (Safa national executive committee) must discuss whether to open such a possibility (of a name change) or just close it and retain the name Bafana Bafana.”
Jordaan refused to divulge any of the suggested names.
The common name that previously had been punted was Rainbow Warriors, symbolising the mental strength of South Africa’s multiracial society. – The Star