JOHANNESBURG – Bafana’s qualification for this year’s Africa Cup of Nations means a lot to South Africa to an extent that legendary sports supporter Ntshebe, whose real name is Wilson Tshabalala, came out retirement to grace their arrival at OR Tambo International Airport yesterday morning.
Due to age, Ntshebe barely makes the long trips to the stadium like he used to in his heyday, but yesterday, he defied his aging legs and joined thousands of fans who were at OR Tambo to give the senior national soccer team a hero’s welcome after landing from Sfax, Tunisia, where they defeated Libya 2-1 in their final Afcon qualifier to book their ticket to Egypt in June and July.
The supporters filled every floor of OR Tambo, creating a nostalgic mood that has eluded the national team for a number of years following their failure to qualify for the past two major tournaments - the 2017 Afcon and last year’s World Cup in Russia.
The noisy, vibrant mood that was enhanced by chants, singing and rumbling was a sign of a winning nation, and it was spiced up by a soccer element as a female supporter, Nkele Mabele, was kind enough to reminisce the post-match mood from Tunisia.
Through vernacular commentary, she said, “nang’uPercy Tau, wathatha ibhola wayinika uThemba Zwane, bayeza kengoku”, which means, “Percy Tau has the ball and he passes it to Themba Zwane as Bafana are on the attack”