JOHANNESBURG – Of course everybody loves a winning team.
It is for that reason that the Bafana Bafana of the late 1990s almost always played in packed stadiums.
And because they enjoyed such fanatical backing, Clive Barker’s team was always inspired to please their fans. And boy, did they please us?
Who can ever forget the Africa Cup of Nations triumph in 1996 or that glorious August afternoon when we qualified for our maiden World Cup?
Sure, those days are now something of a long lost memory.
For as the current Bafana team strive to keep alive their dying hopes of qualifying for next year’s World Cup, the general mood among football fans is “why bother”.
And perhaps understandably so, given the disappointing back-to-back defeats to Cape Verde that have made earning a ticket to Russia 2018 near impossible.
But is this not the time Bafana need their fans the most?
The discerning soccer follower, the true supporter who is passionate about his team will no doubt have a memory of how he – along with his fellow supporters – once lifted his team up from the doldrums by staying faithful in difficult times.
No doubt you remember that match when your team looked down and out, but you cheered them on with song and applause and lifted them up as you personified your standing as the “12th player”.
Against Burkina Faso at the FNB Stadium on Saturday, that is what Bafana will need – a South Africa united behind them in belief that they can stay in the hunt for Russia 2018.
Granted, the feeling is that the current crop of players are not pulling their weight as they should be, and they no doubt are aware of it, given the poor attendances at their recent matches.
But no doubt should they see a marked improvement in attendance and crowds backing them to the hilt, Itumeleng Khune and Co will lift their game and play their hearts out – if only as a thank you for the support.
Come on South Africa, show Bafana your love.
* Matshelane Mamabolo is the Gauteng Sports Co-Ordinator for Independent Media.