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Unbeaten in almost 500 days yet treated like the unwanted stepchild ... Has SA fallen out of love with Bafana Bafana?

Bafana Bafana players line-up for a team photo ahead of their international friendly against the Ivory Coast in Abidjan

Bafana Bafana players line-up for a team photo ahead of their international friendly against the Ivory Coast in Abidjan. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Published Oct 18, 2023


When the referee in Bafana Bafana’s friendly against the Ivory Coast on Tuesday blew the whistle for full-time, it meant that the South African national team had gone 496 days without losing a game.

The draw against the African powerhouses came after an encouraging performance. Following the dull goalless draw against Eswatini last week, Hugo Broos’ men played with purpose on Tuesday, and were unfortunate not to win the game.

Broos was appointed two years ago to improve the national team and results suggest he’s done just that. They’re back in the Africa Cup of Nations after missing out in 2021, and have climbed up the FIFA rankings. That can only bode well for their bid to qualify for an expanded World Cup in 2026.

But, despite their unbeaten run and impressive form, Bafana have in recent years been the butt of many jokes for South Africans, particularly on social media.

Last week was a huge one for South African sport.

The country celebrated when the Proteas were able to win their Cricket World Cup clash against Australia. The champagne was in full flow again on Sunday when Siya Kolisi and his Springboks “united the country” and knocked hosts France out of the Rugby World Cup.

Earlier this year, we all watched as the nation’s women’s team Banyana Banyana created some history by advancing to the knockout stages of their World Cup.

Last week, Bafana could only manage a goalless draw against lowly Eswatini at an empty FNB Stadium, the home of South African football. The nation, it seems, has fallen out of love with Bafana Bafana.

This was evident in last month’s friendly against the Democratic Republic of Congo in Soweto. After that game Broos complained that it felt like an away game as the support for the visiting team outnumbered the local fans.

To make matters worse, very few fans would have been able to watch Tuesday’s game in the Ivory Coast as the game was not broadcast on television, but rather on the SABC+ app.

But, despite the game not being shown on TV, it didn’t look like there was must protestation from fans, some of whom reacted with “Bafana played today?”

The blame can be place on the South African Football Association’s door, who don’t seem to have an idea how hype up the team.

Compared to other national federations, and even some of out local clubs, SAFA’s presence on social media is pitiful, and their website looks like a student’s blog from the early 2000.

SAFA are not doing enough to sell the game to the fans, and have taken the country for granted.

Let’s hope that when the Rugby World Cups ends, the higher ups at SAFA will get on the phone with their counterparts at SA Rugby and get some tips on how to make fans fall in love with the team again.

IOL Sport