Belly Critic

In two weeks time, on September 2 to be exact, many soccer lovers from Mpumalanga and across the country will return to the Mbombela Stadium to watch Bafana Bafana perform.

Can anyone recall what happened to Bafana at the same venue on October 8, 2011?

Have you forgotten? Okay, let me remind you:

This is the very same venue where supporters, together with South African Football Association (Safa) officials, players and coaches erroneously celebrated the teams drawn outcome against Sierra Leone in the mistaken belief that the point had secured Bafana qualification for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, which was to be co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea.

This occurred when “someone” in the Safa ranks assumed that the 0-0 draw against Sierra Leone was enough for Bafana to qualify.

Safa president, Kirsten Nematandani and the current incumbent Danny Jordaan then went on record with media reporters to congratulate the team. Embarrassingly, they did not understand the qualifying criteria and the team had, in fact, missed the plane to the finals.

Supporters, officials and players celebrated a qualification that never was.

However, let’s fast forward to September 2 when Bafana will be returning to Mbombela. This time around, we are at least fully aware that there is nothing to play for despite our pride which is at stake.

This will be Bafana’s last match of what has been a forgetful campaign, as the we have once again failed to book our plane tickets to Gabon.

Cameroon, who will be playing against Gambia, have already secured Group M with 11-points. Mauritania – with seven points, will face Bafana who have six points, in the hope that a win might qualify them as one of two best third-place finishers.

Bafana supporters, especially those from Mpumalanga, should not bring champagne or dancing shoes, like we did in 2011 as there is nothing to celebrate this time around.

For us, it is just a matter of going in our numbers to pack the stadium, as this might entice PSL teams to consider taking some of their league games locally. However, we can expect to celebrate Bafana’s continuous unbeaten record at the local venue.

They have not lost any of the last seven international games they played here, and hopefully they will continue not to on September 2.

Richard Nkosi

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