Bafana, Boks cheer na­tion

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

SPORT­ING achieve­ments in­volv­ing the na­tional teams can go a long way to­wards lift­ing the na­tion’s mood. This is es­pe­cially true when the coun­try is at a low ebb, due to the lat­est po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic mis­for­tunes.

The week­end’s vic­to­ries for Bafana Bafana and the Spring­boks have re­stored the coun­try’s pride in its na­tional teams. Com­ing after a string of poor re­sults, their per­for­mances have given the na­tion a tem­po­rary dis­trac­tion from the daily re­al­i­ties con­fronting us.

Bafana, the coun­try’s se­nior foot­ball team, which has been on a down­ward spi­ral since win­ning the Africa Cup of Na­tions in 1996, pulled off a re­sound­ing 2-0 vic­tory over the for­mi­da­ble Su­per Ea­gles of Nige­ria.

What made the win ex­tra spe­cial is that it was the first time the na­tional foot­ball team were able to beat Nige­ria in a com­pet­i­tive match.

The his­toric vic­tory took place in a packed sta­dium in Uyo, Nige­ria, and this might be the sig­nal that Bafana are no longer poor trav­ellers.

New Bafana coach Stu­art Bax­ter, in his sec­ond stint at the na­tional helm, seems des­tined to take his charges to the 2019 Na­tions Cup in Cameroon.

Hav­ing started the Af­con qual­i­fiers like a house on fire, the for­mer Kaizer Chiefs and Su­perS­port coach has the re­spon­si­bil­ity of en­sur­ing Bafana don’t be­come com­pla­cent and un­der­es­ti­mate less fan­cied op­po­si­tion in Group E like Sey­chelles and Libya.

Like Bafana, the Boks’ for­tunes had taken a dive in the past year, but their morale-boast­ing 34-17 win against France at Lof­tus Vers­feld in Pre­to­ria on Satur­day might be the be­gin­ning of good things to come for coach Al­lis­ter Coet­zee and his charges.

Even though sev­eral of France’s star play­ers were rested after play­ing a do­mes­tic cup fi­nal last Sun­day, we hope Coet­zee’s men can build on this week­end’s per­for­mance.

The Boks man­aged to bal­ance flair and a ballin-hand ap­proach with sound de­fence and enough con­trol to dic­tate the play. It was also en­cour­ag­ing that the young team were able to cross the French try-line four times, al­though one was a penalty try.

The Boks and Bafana still have plenty of work to do to be­come world-beat­ers again, but their week­end re­sults have lifted our spir­its and given us con­fi­dence that they might have turned the cor­ner.

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