When Bafana conquered the Super Eagles
emember the date: June 10 2017. I was there when history was made at Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo, and the feeling was unbelievable. It still is.
I will forever cherish being one of the few South Africans to experience live what will go down as one of Bafana Bafana’s greatest achievements.
We went, we saw and we conquered!
I was there when Hlompho Kekana’s scorcher from his own half silenced a packed Limbe Omnisport Stadium in Cameroon. I remember how, every time Bafana got the ball, the supporters yelled at their goalkeeper Guy N’dy Assembé to go back to his goal line, fearing a repeat of Kekana’s moment of brilliance.
I also happened to be there when Dean Furman scored against Burkina Faso in Ouagadougou, but nothing compares to what happened in Uyo last Saturday.
Prevailing in Nigeria where many Bafana teams have failed in competitive matches since 1992 – when the sides first met on the pitch – was worth everything, and nothing can substitute it.
This victory should be classified in importance along with Phil Masinga’s goal that gave Bafana Bafana a 1-0 victory over Congo, thus propelling them to the 1998 World Cup, and Mark Williams’ brace against Tunisia that led to South Africa’s 1996 Africa Cup of Nations championship.
To see the usually loud and pompous Nigerians stunned, speechless and with nowhere to hide after Percy Tau’s goal, which effectively killed all their hopes of coming back, was awesome.
The atmosphere at the stadium was incredible, with Nigeria’s supporters having come in large numbers, hoping to witness their team’s continued dominance over Bafana.
An hour or so before kickoff, the stadium was filling up nicely.
South African journalists Mark Strydom, Mazola Molefe and myself had nowhere to sit as the media tribune was packed by the time we got to the stadium. Fortunately, one woman took it upon herself to make us comfortable, telling some of her colleagues to treat visitors with respect.
“You Nigerians, why don’t you be good hosts and show our visitors some hospitality, stop being selfish,” she said.
Not long after that, we got a booth to ourselves, and that’s from where we enjoyed the spectacle. To soak up the atmosphere, we left the door open, despite this rendering the air-con ineffective, but we didn’t care.
Molefe nearly broke one of the monitors after Themba Zwane hit the upright in the first half as he vented his frustrations on the wall.
Fortunately, there were only the three of us in there.
When Tokelo Rantie scored, we couldn’t contain our excitement and those outside were surprised by our jubilation.
But we didn’t want to celebrate for too long as it was still too early. We let loose again when Tau outran everyone to score the insurance goal. However, with memories of the 2014 game when Bafana squandered a 2-0 lead to draw at the same venue still fresh in our minds, we did not go overboard with our rejoicing. But with two minutes to go on the clock, it became apparent that there was no way back for the Nigerians and we started celebrating.
The Super Eagles were not their usual arrogant selves and one could sense they feared Bafana. On the other hand, Bafana were buzzing and confident.
The Nigerians were gracious in defeat and congratulated us, but obviously with serious threats of revenge in future.
They were good hosts, took good care of us and went out of their way to accommodate us.
This was not what I had expected as I had been told stories about poor treatment. However, this was far from what we experienced.
Thanks for the welcome, the hospitality and the three points. Molobi is City Press deputy