When Bafana con­quered the Su­per Ea­gles

CityPress - - Sport - TI­MOTHY MOLOBI

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

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