JOHANNESBURG – South African football fans will be watching Friday night's 2019 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) draw with keen interest but many will recall Bafana Bafana only just secured qualification with the proverbial last throw of the dice.
The Confederation of African Football (Caf) will conduct the draw for the 24 qualified teams in Cairo on Friday night at 8pm (SA time).
Just three weeks ago there was a great sense of relief when Bafana Bafana defeated Libya 2-1 in their final Africa Cup of Nations Qualifier in Tunisia.
They secured qualification to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations without losing a game.
For some time now South Africans have had this developing sense of restlessness and disappointment due to the erratic performance of Bafana Bafana.
This restlessness comes from the fact that South Africans as a nation passionately believe that their national team, should at all times qualify for continental and international competitions, taking into consideration the talent we have.
Fans remember how Bafana failed to qualify for Afcon in 2010, 2012, they then qualified as hosts in 2013 and rightfully qualified in 2015, only to later fail to qualify in the 2017 edition of Afcon.
With the constant reminder of failing to qualify for the last Afcon showpiece in Gabon, the 2019 qualifiers will have lots of pressure on them when the tournament starts in Cairo, Egypt, in June.
Being drawn in the same group with Nigeria, Seychelles as well as Libya, Bafana should not take any of their opposition lightly.
The last time Bafana Bafana won the competition was in 1996 as hosts under Clive Barker and later went on to finish second in the heartbreaking 1998 finals, losing 2-0 to Egypt.
Itʼs no lie that South Africans are yearning for silverware as well as being the champions of Africa again after 23 years, the current crop of players will have to defy all odds and write their names in the history books of South African football.
Although they qualified without losing a match, conceded the least number of goals in their group, as well as beating Nigeria at home, Bafana Bafana know they’ll have to perform even better to taste glory in Egypt.
But judging from their recent performance, the players seem patriotic, disciplined, eager and hungry for success, as they defy all odds and head to Egypt with the aim of not merely adding numbers, but being worthy opponents and being great competitors.