Kaizer Chiefs need support of all South Africans
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CAPE TOWN – At a time when the citizens of South African are divided on so many issues, inevitably we look to sport to unite us, even if momentarily. The Springboks did this in Cape Town on Wednesday evening with a magnificent win against the British & Irish Lions.
The Boks, playing in the guise of South Africa ‘A’, put down a marker for the three-Test series that will start in Cape Town on July 24. It was a needed reminder of every quality of every player who brought us so much joy in winning the World Cup in 2019.
Out of the sight can be out of mind and the inactivity of the Springboks in the last 21 months because of the Covid pandemic had many doubting their capability against the best of Six Nations champions Wales, England, Ireland and Scotland. The doubting Thomases were firmly put in their place as the South Africans played with purpose, passion and pride, despite having to do it at an empty Cape Town Stadium.
The South African sporting spirit is unique, as is the patriotism of the people of our country when it comes to a sporting occasion.
The big question is whether South African sporting fans can transfer this national patriotism to a club this weekend and put all bias and prejudice to one side and unite in their desire to see Kaizer Chiefs beat Egypt’s Al Ahly in the CAF Champion League Cup final.
Kick-off is 9pm, SA time, at the Mohammed V-Stadium in Morocco on Saturday and it is the first time that Chiefs will play in the final of African Club football’s most prestigious club event.
One way or the other, South Africans will be able to claim a winner, as Pitso Mosimane manages Al Ahly, but the biggest South African victory would be in a Chiefs triumph.
I’ve always supported Chiefs, but equally put my weight behind any South African team taking on the rest of Africa.
I know it is easier said than done, but this weekend really requires a South African national sense of unity behind Chiefs.
I don’t know if it is possible and club rivalries run deep in South Africa, as they do in most places. I know that my Manchester United mates certainly weren’t supporting Manchester City when they played PSG.
I also know that those rugby mates of mine in New Zealand, who are from the north island, backed the South African Lions when they played the (south island) Crusaders. It wasn’t about national first for them, but about their provincial/club rivals taking a beating.
Club rivalries, in the South African context, must come second right in this moment.
Our country in the past week has been at war with itself, while the war against Covid remains as draining as it was 18 months ago. It’s been a mess.
We want some good news and we want something to cheer, and what better tonic than seeing Chiefs down the celebrated Egyptians.
Former Sundowns manager Mosimane’s also had way too much success against South African teams since going north. For once in South African football, let it all be about the South African collective and not the individual.
Chiefs are representing South Africa and they are playing for a nation as much as they are doing it for the history of a club whose identity globally has always been associated with domestic South African excellence.
Chiefs, in the past season, struggled domestically and lacked the class of the many glorious Chiefs teams that won so much silverware. Yet, somehow, Chiefs are in the club continental final. What a glorious night it will be for South African soccer if Chiefs can create history and win. In Chiefs I believe and how amazing if, as a country ,that is our sporting mantra on Saturday night.
Mark Keohane is an award-winning sports journalist and a regular contributor to Independent Media Sport.