Back Bafana to the end, back the World Cup all the way

22 June 2010 - 01:43 By The Editor, The Times Newspaper

The Times Editorial: South Africa's national team, Bafana Bafana, stands at a precipice today as they face France in their last Group A match.

It might well be the host nation's final appearance at the first-ever soccer World Cup to be played on the African continent. The permutations supplied by the experts to get Bafana into the next phase of the tournament are horrendous. And, we have to hope that the ructions within the French camp will continue to unsettle our opponents.

Simply put, we need an abundance of miracles to progress any further.

We will need the inspiring team spirit of Brazil, the pluckiness of New Zealand and the precision of Holland.

But, even as we square our shoulders for what appears to be inevitable disappointment and an early exit from this wonderful tournament, let us celebrate the game of skill, brilliance and athleticism that is being played in our own back yard.

Let's be realistic about our expectations of our national side. They were in a tough group, having to compete against teams that enjoy much higher Fifa rankings.

Not even the track record of coach Carlos Alberto Parreira can compensate for the fact that Bafana started off the tournament ranked 83rd in the world.

We've expected our boys to punch way above their weight, and they have tried. But, as we saw in the game last week against Uruguay, we are indeed a fledgeling team.

But as we face defeat, let us remember the greater context of this tournament. We are the host nation until the triumphant team holds aloft the golden trophy on July 11.

Until then, we must be gracious and welcoming hosts. At least, until the last camera crew, journalist, tourist and team leave South Africa. Let's make this a tournament of great African memories.