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South Africans deserve better from Bafana

Do not be surprised if countless South Africans are diagnosed with hypertension and extremely high levels of blood pressure before the end of the Africa Cup of Nations tournament if the fair dished out by Bafana Bafana at the FNB Stadium in mid-week was the best they could offer.

I am glad coach Gordon Igesund was honest enough to admit that he did not have a team yet. He expressed his disappointment about the performance, if that should be called a performance against Zambia, and confessed that he still needs to build a team.

That was an honest opinion from a forthright Igesund and, while one admires his honesty, unfortunately he has been given a mandate by his bosses to deliver. And deliverance means advancing to the semifinals of the biennial tournament they would be hosting.

Tragically, Igesund does not have the luxury of time on his hands. We have less than 60 days before kick-off. And his team displayed all the hallmarks of a work in progress and nowhere near hosts that are capable of going all the way to the final.

I must from the onset, however, express my disappointment at the Stadium Management which is in charge of the general maintenance of the venue for the shocking state of the pitch a day before kickoff. I accept that they have a mandate to ensure the calabash does not turn into a white elephant, but to stage a music contest at a venue that was due to stage a football match less than 72 hours showed lack of foresight.

They can argue until they are blue or pink in the face. But if they had informed Safa that the pitch would not be ready, maybe the game could have been staged at the nearby Orlando Stadium and spared us the embarrassment of watching the cabbage patch a day before such a crucial date.

But back to Bafana, it will serve no purpose to blame Igesund for the unhealthy state Bafana Bafana find themselves in. Truth be told, if Cape Verde, Angola and Morocco have been watching, none of them would be quivering in their boots but instead would be smiling from ear to ear.

Bafana could not complete passes, lost possession too cheaply and little wonder Igesund has been chopping and changing his personnel constantly. Who can blame him when we struggled to carry the ball forward and our decision making in the third half of the field simply sucked!

It was only when Yeye Letsholonyane came into the field and Teko Modise also ran out, that we showed some gumption. There was no variety to our general play which was so predictable Zambia had little difficulty in smothering every move we tried.

I am aware that I have been brutal in my analysis of my countrymen’s performance, but we need to be realistic and stop burying our heads in the sand and hope by the time we take them out, everything shall be hunky dory and we would be world beaters.

Bafana showed glimpses of promise against Brazil and did exceptionally well against Mozambique, Poland and Kenya. But all the progress they seemed to have been making and the hard work they had put in the previous three matches was undone against Zambia and they seem to have taken more backward steps than I suspected.

This game was played in honour of the late former coaching assistant Thomas Madigage who passed away in a tragic car accident three weeks ago and ironically, was supposed to have celebrated his 42nd birthday on the very same night that Bafana decided to choke against Zambia.

I pray that he does not turn in his grave at the shockingly poor fair dished out by his former charges. I am mindful of the fact that the team was decimated by injuries to key players, but if we are to compete against the best in the world, we must prove our depth and not crumble due to the absence of a handful of players.

A glimmer of hope is the fact that they know that when you are down on the floor there is absolutely nothing you can pick up except dirt. Now all they have to do is to pick themselves up and step up a gear.

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