Kodwa's Bafana dressing room address divides opinion

Igesund defends minister, says he was encouraging the team

19 January 2024 - 20:13
By Neville Khoza
Zizi Kodwa adresses Bafana Bafana at AFCON, Ivory Coast
Image: TWITTER Zizi Kodwa adresses Bafana Bafana at AFCON, Ivory Coast

The presence of sports minister Zizi Kodwa in the Bafana Bafana dressing room in the aftermath of their defeat to Mali in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) has sparked debate as to whether the politician should have been allowed in that space.

A video of Kodwa speaking to the players after the defeat in Group E, offering words of encouragement, circulated on social media yesterday. In it, Bafana coach Hugo Broos could be seen with his hand on his jaw, while the minister, accompanied by Safa president Danny Jordaan, spoke to the squad.

Bafana play Namibia on Sunday in a match they must win if they are to stand a chance of advancing to the knockout round.

“I think for me it is a great opportunity to progress from the group stages and I think what was good of you is that you are careless about the crowd,” Kodwa said in a video posted on social media.

“It’s a game of football and a split second that changes the decision. I think those short passes make a lot of difference and I think you defeated them in the first half.

“But of course, you have to regroup. It’s a game of football. I just want to encourage you. I think you inspired a lot of South Africans. If you look at the games that have been played in this tournament, there are no underdogs.

“Some big countries have also lost and they are struggling in the group stages. You remain an inspiration, go forward and never lose hope.

“Discipline and playing as a team. I think going forward I see success. I’m confident that you will progress.

“I think the coach would have drawn some lessons from the game.

“I just want to encourage you on behalf of the President [Cyril Ramaphosa] to express that message and also on behalf of South Africans.”

While many see this as political interference, former Bafana coach Gordon Igesund disagreed and said the minister was just offering encouragement.

“I don’t want to comment about it because I didn’t see the video. Maybe he was trying to encourage the players to pick their heads up, I don’t know,” Igesund said.

“They are only allowed to do what the coach tells them to do. If the coach is happy with that, it’s fine. It was not interference or anything like that. I mean, we want to support the team and encourage them.”