By Fred Kaweesi in Nelspruit
I thought heartbreak and sheer torment would have been the inevitable headlines to South Africa’s quarter-final collapse at the hands of Mali all through this Rainbow country yesterday.
Naturally, you would have expected dejection from the thousands of Bafana Bafana fans that had, in the build-up to this quarterfinal fixture, lit up Durban with fanfare akin to the carnival celebrations normally impelled by success. There has been nothing of the kind.
The events, since South Africa’s elimination from the tournament on Saturday night, have proved one thing –that the national football team has few or no loyal fans here.
That to restore belief or confidence in the team, the Bafana will have to first undergo reconstructive surgery, of an identity, something that would help tem reconnect with their supporters that have deserved them in droves.
“We knew this was going to happen from the start. They (Bafana) always disappoint. They can’t play football,” one fan pointed before joining her colleagues on a night out.
It’s now Baghana Baghana!
In brief, Bafana Bafana’s exit has not dampened the fans’ spirits here in any way, just a lease of life.
The Nations Cup party is still intact and a majority of the South Africans have decided switch allegiances with a team that pleased them so much during the 2010 FIFA World Cup –Ghana.
Back then, the Black Stars were the only African side to reach the knock-out stage of the tournament which meant they were the team that carried the continent’s hopes.
To assume connection with Ghana, South Africans changed the nickname of their national team from Bafana Bafana to Baghana Baghana in support of the Black Stars.
That has not changed since. South Africa is Ghana’s second home. They will surely enjoy more support than any of the other three semi-finalists left.
Just before Togo’s quarterfinal fixture against Burkina Faso yesterday, there was a group of South African youths around the Mbombela Stadium, who had faces painted red, yellow and green. The older hands were draped in Ghana scarves and flags and everyone seemed to enjoy shouting: “Baghana for the title! Baghana for the title!”
I can’t overstate how much South Africans want Ghana to win the 2013 title.