Goal.com South Africa writer Lunga Ntuli is based in Durban, where Bafana is playing three matches in a row, including a quarterfinal against MaliBafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund was asked by a journalist just after the team had progressed to the quarterfinals, if he believes that his team can win the Afcon? His response was ‘Do you believe?’ The journalist replied 'Yes'.
Since then these words have been ringing in my mind, together with former US President John F Kennedy's famous quote (lifted from writer Khalil Gibran), 'Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.'
As much as it has been said that we must not compare the class of 1996 with the current class of 2013, but there are many similarities in the circumstances. Both coaches Clive Barker and Igesund believed in the players. If this was not the case I don’t think Siyabonga Sangweni would have left his normal position to go and try his luck upfront. If this was not the case then the players would not have fought so courageously until the end. Now, they believe in themselves.
On Sunday, I walked in at the Moses Mabhida stadium with faith that Bafana would qualify and remain in Durban for the quarters as group winners. The game reminded me of many experiences, the reason I love soccer. There were moments when I felt like a 16-year-old boy dumped by his girlfriend in front of his friends (when Bafana were trailing). There were times I felt as if it was really over and that there is nothing that could be done. Yes, there was a lot of negative thoughts trying to distract me from believing. A game of football is like a microcosm of life's struggle between faith and doubt, wrapped in 90 minutes.
What kept me believing at that time was the fans in Durban. They reminded me of a mother who stands by her child even after all the trouble and pain has cost the family. The fans belief in the coach and players were amazing. There was never a point where I heard them booing any of the players. Yes, maybe some of the decisions that the coach had made was not agreeable to some, but you cannot make everyone happy.
There is a lot that can be achieved through believing and I remember that when Igesund selected these boys, there were many critics who did not believe in the players. Vitally, the players believed in themselves. Do you believe in them and our coach?