Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ayoba turns to Eina – South Africa’s World Cup Dream is Crumbling

Bafana Bafana, South Africa’s national soccer team, is ranked 88th in the world and of the 32 teams participating in the Fifa 2010 World Cup, only one team (North Korea) – is ranked lower. Yet even against terrible odds South Africans have held hope that their team will win the tournament and even the President, Jacob Zuma, has said publicly that he has “great faith” that the team can win the Cup for the nation. Perhaps it is the euphoria of playing host to the World Cup that has imbibed this child-like belief that a win is possible – like the battle between David and Goliath might play out again, or that the magic of a Sangoma – a traditional African witchdoctor – will transform this unlikely dream into reality.

There is a feeling that this is South Africa’s time – that somehow the decision to bring the Cup here has enabled the country to be finally born anew, washed of the scars of its apartheid past, freed for from the discomforts of poverty, released from the animosity between classes, its people finally united in pride and overwhelmed with jubilation – if only for a month. A feverish energy on Opening Day became inescapable – it was already apparent that the day would be filled with excitement, but this was an upwelling of large proportions and caught some off guard. Businesses planned to remain open, mostly for half-days, but the mindset of employees everywhere was on a single track – focused on the first match, made evident in the sea of green and gold jerseys that almost everyone wore to work that day – ayoba (amazing) the World Cup was finally here.

South Africa ended its first match in a draw – but the performance of the team was strong and so was the sound of the vuvuzela, a triumphant noise of support. Day by day the efficient machine of the Cup carries on operating relatively smoothly and news headlines echo a collective sigh of relief as the nation proves itself to the world, that yes – we can do this, and everyone nods in agreement, well done to South Africa. But after South Africa’s second match – a loss and a disappointing show of skill – it became evident that the euphoria is starting to wane.

Just over one week into the tournament, Bafana Bafana now stands with one of the worst host nation performances in World Cup history yet it will need to defeat France – a former world champion and a true Goliath – just to stay in the game and proceed to the next round. The buzz of the vuvuzela is going softer now, eina (ouch), Bafana, eina – the feeling now is unsettled, tense, afraid of what might happen in the next match – the last chance. Bafana, the nation’s heart is hoping and crying for you.

1 comment:

  1. Very cool blog I could read about sports experiences forever lol, Joshua