22 September 2017 – “It’s not over until the fat lady sings.” This age-old yet rather apt expression is indeed relevant to the current situation in which our national football team finds itself.
Sitting precariously low, last in fact, in our FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifying group, Stuart Baxter and his men have their proverbial backs against the wall. Not only have we lost two games against Cape Verde in which we were expecting a healthy six points but we now may also have to play a rematch against Senegal, which could complicate things even further.
However, should we simply write off the team at this juncture like we almost always seem to do? Should we be negative and expect the worst? This is not a rhetorical question and the answer is a resounding NO and here is why . . .
I have been an avid sports fan, observer, armchair critic and supporter for virtually three decades. I have literally seen it all, across most sporting codes. I have witnessed the impossible and the improbable. From victory to heartbreak and everything in between. What I have taken out from such experiences is that ‘anything is possible in the world of sport’, particularly football. It is never over until it’s over . . . until that final whistle has been blown.
In the current situation that Bafana Bafana find themselves in, fans and pundits alike, should simply get behind the team, fill the stadiums, be positive and expect the best possible outcome.
Mathematically, qualification for the World Cup is still very much possible. That is all that really matters. Why try and guess what the future holds? The two Burkina Faso/Senegal draws were a true blessing for our team and truly works in our favour.
Even with the replay confirmed to happen, I back the boys to go out and repeat the victory against Senegal and snare the three points. The South African Football Association (SAFA) has stated categorically that they in no way were be involved in any wrongdoing and actions related to the referee. The ordering of such a match will actually set a dangerous precedent and imply that many other games also be replayed due to poor referring. Burkina Faso has also threatened to sue FIFA over the decision as it affects them drastically too.
Let us not forget that we still have another home match (against Burkina Faso) and that any of the other three teams can easily slip up in their fixtures.
Baxter’s victory against Nigeria in his first game back, really proved what this team can achieve and I have full confidence that such a result can be repeated in order to get us to Russia next year. The type of football that we are playing now suggests that we are on the right path and it is only a matter of time until our luck begins to change. We have had enough heartache over the years and the football gods will surely shine upon us soon.
I implore the nation to get behind team and support the boys trough this critical juncture in our qualifying campaign. Call me the eternal optimist but the best is yet to come!
By: Dhirshan Gobind