Re­vive MADIBA Magic

With im­por­tant as­sign­ments ahead, S’bu­siso Mse­leku asks if Bafana Bafana, the Proteas and the Spring­boks can bring back the Madiba Magic

CityPress - - Sport - Bafana Bafana Spring­boks: The Proteas: (See boxes for full fix­tures of the three sport­ing codes)

Dur­ing Nel­son Man­dela’s term of of­fice, not only did South Africa be­come known as the Rain­bow Na­tion, but the na­tional sports teams rode the crest of a sport­ing wave.

Who can for­get the dra­matic Joel Stran­sky drop goal that took the sails out of the Spring­boks’ neme­sis, the All Blacks, to win South Africa the Webb El­lis tro­phy at El­lis Park in 1995?

Or Mark Wil­liams’ brace at an FNB Sta­dium packed with a crowd that rep­re­sented all the colours of the rain­bow, the fol­low­ing year for Bafana Bafana to claim the Africa Cup of Na­tions (Af­con)?

The Proteas did not win any ma­jor in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ments dur­ing Madiba’s ten­ure as South Africa’s first demo­crat­i­cally elected pres­i­dent between 1994-1999, but they did win some tests.

There were also some no­tice­able changes in the sport.

A year be­fore Man­dela left of­fice, The Mdingi Ex­press – fast bowler Makhaya Ntini, who went on to be­come only the third South African to take 300 test wick­ets af­ter Shaun Pol­lock and Al­lan Don­ald, and reach sec­ond place in the ICC test match bowl­ing rat­ings – made his test de­but on March 19 1998 against Sri Lanka.

The Madiba Magic – thanks mostly to those fa­mous phone calls Man­dela made to South African sports par­tic­i­pants in the mid­dle of the night wish­ing them well and re­mind­ing them they were not only rep­re­sent­ing them­selves, but mil­lions of fel­low cit­i­zens, rubbed off on most ath­letes.

Is there any­one among Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, Sports Min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula, coaches Shakes Mashaba, Heyneke Meyer and Rus­sell Domingo, cap­tains Itumeleng Khune, Jean de Vil­liers and Hashim Amla, who can in­spire the na­tional teams to great heights once more by rekin­dling that win­ning spirit?

Mashaba’s ap­point­ment has brought a new sense of hope for Bafana to rise from the ashes like the prover­bial phoenix.

Their quest to qual­ify for next year’s 30th Africa Cup of Na­tions, to be held in Morocco from Jan­uary 17 to Fe­bru­ary 8, starts in Su­dan on Fri­day night. They will have a mere four days’ rest be­fore fac­ing de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Nige­ria in Cape Town on Septem­ber 10.

The na­tion will know on Novem­ber 19 when they play away against Nige­ria whether Bafana will be one of the 16 teams that will con­test the Af­con next year.

This is a chance for the team to redeem them­selves as Mashaba has se­lected a young squad full of prom­ise.

The third team in their group is Con­goBraz­zav­ille.

Since 1995, when they beat the All Blacks to lift the IRB World Cup tro­phy, the Boks have always gone into the tour­na­ment as favourites.

It should be no dif­fer­ent when they play in next year’s rugby World Cup in Eng­land from Septem­ber 18 to Oc­to­ber 31.

Even af­ter the Madiba Magic years, they hoisted Pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki shoul­der-high at the Stade de France, Saint-De­nis in Paris af­ter claim­ing vic­tory over Eng­land in the 2007 edi­tion, on for­eign soil no­gal.

The Boks have a hec­tic pro­gramme lead­ing up to the World Cup.

They lead the rugby cham­pi­onship af­ter home and away vic­to­ries over Ar­gentina.

It gets tougher as they face Aus­tralia in Perth on Satur­day be­fore tack­ling New Zealand in Welling­ton on Septem­ber 13.

It will then be home games against the Wal­la­bies at New­lands on Septem­ber 27 be­fore the New Zealan­ders visit El­lis Park on Oc­to­ber 4.

Fresh from the cham­pi­onship, it will be off to play on the Cas­tle Lager Out­go­ing Tour that starts at the Aviva Sta­dium in Ire­land on Novem­ber 8.

That match will be fol­lowed by a con­test against Eng­land at Twick­en­ham on Novem­ber 15.

Seven days later, the Boks will tackle Italy be­fore trekking to the Mil­len­nium Sta­dium in Cardiff on Novem­ber 29 to face Wales.

Not much will hap­pen next year as there will only be three matches of a re­duced rugby cham­pi­onship that will be a sin­gle match each against New Zealand, Aus­tralia and Ar­gentina.

The Boks will also play a sin­gle test against the Pu­mas be­fore head­ing off to the World Cup.

South Africans will wait with bated breath to see if the Proteas can even­tu­ally shed the “chok­ers” tag when the 2015 cricket World Cup comes around from Fe­bru­ary 14 to March 29 in Aus­tralia and New Zealand.

The na­tional cricket team have not dis­ap­pointed un­der Hashim Amla. They made his­tory in their first out­ing un­der his lead­er­ship by break­ing the Sri Lanka hoodoo that had lasted for years be­fore reg­is­ter­ing a white­wash over Zim­babwe.

The Proteas are play­ing in a Tri­an­gu­lar Se­ries with Zim­babwe and Aus­tralia at present. Their next as­sign­ment is the New Zealand tour which kicks off at the Bay Oval, Mount Maun­ganui, on Oc­to­ber 21 and ends on Oc­to­ber 27. They are in Aus­tralia from Novem­ber 2-23.

From down un­der, the Proteas head home to host the West Indies from De­cem­ber 17 to Jan­uary 28. Then it’s off to the World Cup.

Such are the chal­lenges await­ing our three na­tional teams. Will they bring back the coun­try’s pride?

That ques­tion will be an­swered through their tour­na­ments and their per­for­mances at the dif­fer­ent in­ter­na­tional events.

PHOTO: JAN HAM­MAN

VIC­TORY Fran­cois Pien­aar re­ceives the Webb El­lis Cup from Pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela af­ter win­ning the 1995 rugby World Cup at El­lis Park. This marked the be­gin­ning of the time of Madiba Magic

PRES­SURE

PHO­TOS: RYAN WILKISKY / BARRY ALDWORTH / BACKPAGEPIX

Top to bot­tom: Itumeleng Khune is un­der pres­sure as Bafana cap­tain to see that the team turns around its for­tunes; Hashim Amla has led by ex­am­ple as Proteas cap­tain; and Jean de Vil­liers has a big task as the Boks skip­per

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