BAFANA BAFANA’S Africa Cup of Nations adventure started on a rather flat note on Saturday night with a 0-0 draw in the opening match against Cape Verde.

South Africa’s performance against the Blue Sharks will not have won over the sceptics, especially as Bafana again flattered to deceive in the attacking third of the field, in spite of coach Gordon Igesund’s earlier promises.

But the good news is that South Africa are still in contention to qualify for the quarter-finals, after the other match in the group, between Morocco and Angola, also finished goalless in a downbeat start to the tournament.

The results have given Bafana’s second group match against Angola at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium even greater significance, as a win would make them heavy favourites to progress to the knockout stage.

However, Bafana will need all the support they can get, not only from the Durban faithful but from the country as a whole.

The hosts’ struggles on the field have been well-documented in the lead-up to the tournament, and Bafana desperately need the help of the “12th man” in the stands to give them a lift.

South African sports supporters are generally a fickle bunch, but the time has come to get behind the national football team, whether you follow the sport or not. The passion of the people must fire up Bafana to make up for what the team lack in skill and attacking threat.

If Bafana fail to clear the first hurdle of the tournament, the continent’s showpiece could fizzle out for South African fans, which would be an enormous pity.

Africa’s best players are on display and are ready to dazzle. But the tournament will be even more memorable if the hosts surprise everyone by causing a few upsets.

South Africa has built up a few great sporting memories since we rejoined the international sporting community two decades ago. If that never-say-die spirit can take Bafana all the way, we could still end up reminiscing about this tournament for many years to come.