SA still behind Bafana


After Wednesday night's 3-0 drubbing by Uruguay, only a series of miracles will allow the team passage to the World Cup's second round.

But, despite this, a snap poll of 100 people around the country has revealed that the threats of many "never again" to support the national side were empty.

And many who walked out of Pretoria's Loftus Versfeld stadium, and from fan parks around the country when all hope was lost, will be back again for more.

Of the 57 people interviewed outside Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium, at the public viewing area at Mary Fitzgerald Square and at Sandton's Innis Free Park Fan Fest, 46 fully backed the team.

One, who refused to be named, said he was "no longer" interested.

The 11 who changed sides said they would back Portugal, Holland, Brazil, Argentina and England.

In Durban yesterday, all 32 people interviewed vowed that they would remain Bafana fans until the very end.

In Cape Town, seven out of 11 people at Wembley Square said they still backed Bafana, though the rest had switched their allegiance to Spain, Argentina or Germany, saying they didn't have a choice because Bafana's hopes were doomed.

Perhaps fearing that South Africans had lost interest, the government yesterday appealed to citizens to continue being good hosts and rally behind the tournament.

Spokesman Themba Maseko said: "The success of the tournament is dependent on our hospitality as a host nation. After all, this is still our World Cup. It is up to us to make it a success."

The official Bafana Facebook page, which has just under 64000 users, was crammed with messages yesterday as writers both commiserated with the players and slammed their performance.

One fan wrote: "Madiba said: 'Everything seems impossible until it's done.' Keep the faith - make the circle bigger!"

Safa president Kirsten Nematandani told The Times yesterday that he would meet coach Carlos Alberto Parreira and his squad today.

"I will tell them to walk tall, irrespective of the loss. In life, if you don't come across turmoil, you're never going to learn anything. We still urge the nation to get behind the boys," he said.

Local celebrities spoke out on Twitter.

Springbok wing Bryan Habana said: "It's been a sombre morning after a depressing night but still proudly South African though!!"

Proteas bowler Wayne Parnell said: "Our performance wasn't ayoba but I'm Proudly South African to the end."

Bafana midfielder Steven Pienaar tweeted that he was relaxing after "a very disappointing result".

To fans who left the stadium before the match ended, Nematandani said: "We have no other national soccer team, so we appeal for a sporting spirit among the fans. You don't go and desert your national team on the basis of that result."

But today the fans are rallying behind the team.

Durban's Andrew Jenkins wore his Bafana Bafana shirt yesterday, ignoring jokes from his colleagues.

"Are the Spanish fans angry? Are they packing it up and going home because they lost? They are not, so why are we crying like big babies?" he asked.

Solomon Ndlela, a hawker selling Bafana Bafana scarves, said his sales were unaffected by Wednesday's loss.

"People are still buying. They want the stuff because they know Bafana will beat France."

Capetonian Larry Claasen, from Heathfield, was very clear about where his allegiance lay: "You can leave your wife, you can leave your company, but you can never leave your football team."

ANC Conference 2017