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Bafana Bafana, our team, nomakanjani

Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund has announced his ‘Dream Team’ for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations, to be staged in South Africa next year. There were a few surprises.

The team announcement was greeted with mix reactions. Many took to social media to express their feelings about the team. They felt particular players were supposed to have been included in the team. The question is, at the expense of whom?

What was most disappointing for me, though, was how many questioned the coach’s choices. They felt some of the players should have been selected ahead of others. What they did not say was what is wrong with the selected players. Neither did they say why the omitted players should have been selected.

The coach did say it was a difficult choice to come up with the final names, but in the end a decision had to be taken, and he took it in the interest of the nation. He said he is happy with the team as it shows balance. The selection was never going to satisfy everybody. If it was not about the omitted players it could have been about the others. I say "big ups" to GI for taking a stand and pick up a team based on form and attitude.

Why did the coach leave out the likes of Andile Jali, Daine Klate and Teko Modise, they asked. Well I asked then, whose place should they take in the squad? If selection is based on form then I say Igesund and his technical team got it right with their final 23. It happens at team level. The coach is the one who trains with these players and he knows their strengths. It is, after all, the coach’s prerogative to select a squad he believes will deliver and execute his objectives.

I believe the players who were selected have done enough to be in the squad. At some point a coach put his trust in them and gave them a chance. I think this bunch also deserves similar treatment.

Many years ago, a certain Benni McCarthy was deemed too young to play for the national team. Years later he became the best and Bafana’s top scorer. Former coach Ted Dumitru selected an unknown Siphiwe Tshabalala, while still playing in the lower league for Free State Stars, when Bafana participated in the 2006 Afcon in Egypt. He became a national hero years later.

So, no matter how we feel, as South Africans we need to come out and support Igesund and the boys, whether our preferred players are in or not. Conditional support for our team is not going to do us or the team’s campaign any good. More than ever, the team needs our support. Just like we did during the World Cup a few years, ago, we can do it again.

The success of the 1996 class was largely because of the nation’s support. We can do the same for this one. Instead of questioning the merit of certain players’ inclusion we should send them message of encouragement and support.

Coach Igesund knows what is at stake. I trust that, given a chance, this team can surprise their opponents and bring back the glory days. The man has done it before, though at club level. His record speaks volumes. He knows how to turn un-trusted players into special players. I believe this time it is not going to be different. Some of the players, whose inclusion is in question, could turn out to be heroes, come the end of the tournament.

In moving forward, as much as we disagree with the coach’s choice, we should be patriotic enough to rally behind the team. This is our team and we need to put aside any differences and show them support.

There is no going back. Bafana Bafana Fridays are here again.

Follow me on Twitter @azwihang

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