The South Africa national team recently played out to a 1-1 draw against Nigeria, and once again there is an air of negativity surrounding the team following the result.
While the result meant that the Super Eagles booked their place in next year’s continental showpiece event, Bafana Bafana are not under pressure as their hopes, dreams and perhaps for some, future hang in the balance.
However, in all honesty, it’s not all doom and gloom for the national team. It has by no means been one of the worst qualifying campaigns as Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has correctly pointed out.
Bafana have taken four points off a team that has for long had their number and that is an achievement on its own.
But it should be noted that it’s not the big games that Bafana usually disappoint. Just like in the 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifiers, Bafana slipped up against Cape Verde, this time around they were held in the Seychelles to a goalless draw.
It is the inability to beat teams that Bafana should be beating that has seen them fail to make an appearance at major tournaments.
So, while walking away with four points against Nigeria, remaining unbeaten and conceding just once is commendable, results are what matters the most.
Nigeria tasted defeat to Bafana, but they were still able to qualify with ease as they took advantage of the group’s weaker opponents.
This comes down to a lack of killer instinct on Bafana's part. Gone are the days where Bafana were once feared, rather they are seen as a sleeping giant of African football.
Now, the clash against Libya is still a few months away and Bafana have ample time to prepare. But in the meantime, they have a clash against Paraguay.
More often than not, Bafana come up with big performances in games that are less important.
A victory over the South Americans will almost certainly not come as a surprise to many South Africans as the pressure is off the national team, and after a deflating draw they will have a point to prove.
The reality though is that even if Bafana do come up with a resounding win over the Paraguayans, it does not completely reinstall confidence in the national team.
After years of heartbreak, fans are no longer as forgiving and are tired of the so-called ‘new dawns’.
While victory will do a lot for the confidence of the players as Paraguay have shown that they are no slouches in the past, it will not do the relationship much favours. Bafana need to show that they can come to the party in games that count.
Nonetheless, there remains promise with the national team, especially with the way the likes of Lebo Mothiba and Percy Tau having impressively fitted into the national team setup.
But come March 2019, Bafana will need to show they can be counted when they take on Libya.
Failure to do so will only heighten the negativity around the national team.