Bafana Bafana skipper Bongani Khumalo has appealed to supporters of the national team to refrain from jeering and booing players on the pitch.
Khumalo joined Bafana coach Gordon Igesund on Friday in encouraging supporters to cheer for the side, rather than potentially damaging a player’s confidence through jeering.
“It’s something that you don’t want to see happen. I can’t see how that would help any player at any moment of the game,” Khumalo said prior to their final Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) warm-up clash with Algeria in Soweto today.
“I’d like to appeal to every supporter to help put that (jeering) to an end.
“It’s just sad. We love the support, it gives us that positive energy to drive forward, and whenever a teammate is booed, that’s taxing on you as well, because you never know what that could do to a player’s confidence,” said Khumalo;
Igesund had pointed out earlier in the week that sections of the crowd at Tuesday’s friendly international against Norway in Cape Town jeered Katlego Mphela, after the striker missed a number of seemingly clear-cut chances in front of goal. While the national side had faced their hardships in scoring goals – the primary target of fans’ frustrations following the 1-0 defeat to Norway – Khumalo believed that they would be able to iron out any imperfections in their game before they opened the Afcon tournament against Cape Verde next week. “I believe that with every single training session and every game that we play, we can only get better,” the skipper said.
“There are certain areas that we need to work on and there are a few things we have to look at during Saturday’s game. In preparation games, it’s about improving and I am sure that when the competition starts, everyone will be ready.”
Khumalo said that several members of the squad had benefited from their previous involvement in major tournaments like the 2009 Confederations Cup and the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
“A tournament is a great learning curve, so coming into the Afcon tournament, we still have the majority of players that played at the 2010 World Cup,” he said. “At this stage, and in a big tournament of this importance, experience is priceless, but it’s always good to have fresh new players willing to excite.
“Everyone knows how important this competition is, especially because we are playing in our own country.”
With national pride at stake, Khumalo insisted that Bafana were aware of the task that lay ahead in proving the side’s capability to perform on the international stage.
“We are all professionals and we are all well aware of the responsibility that we have,” he said.
“You don’t need much motivation as a player heading into a tournament like this. Every player will be self-motivated.
“Players have worked hard to make it into this team and are pushing for the final 11 spots available in the starting line-up. The final 11 will be supported by everybody on the bench. I believe each player is willing to (make sacrifices) for what’s best for the team,” said Khumalo.