Ahead of Bafana Bafana sleepwalking through their morning training session on Tuesday‚ centreback Morgan Gould pronounced that the crowds would come for Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against Burkina Faso at FNB Stadium.
With SA resembling a high school side who had just had a tongue-lashing and were sulking their way through the session‚ and elsewhere an official confiding that Safa was struggling to give away tickets‚ Gould’s seemed a statement motivated by sheer bravado.
Perhaps an empty FNB Stadium would be exactly what the national team deserve.
Gould‚ though‚ shunted to the forefront of Bafana’s central defence by injuries and suspensions‚ said he still expected a decent attendance. Subsequent information has been that so far, 300 tickets have been sold for the 94,000-seat venue.
"I don’t think we’re going to see the orange seats because people are going to come out in their numbers supporting us‚" Gould pronounced.
"The less [empty seats] the better. But even if that’s not the case, we’re just going to go out there and‚ I can assure you‚ give 300% or more. To show the nation that we’re hurting‚ and what better way to show that than just doing the graft and get the best result for us, which is nothing less than three points."
Perhaps the sun that radiated off a hot FNB for a lacklustre Bafana training session had also baked Gould’s mind.
The South Africans — some of whom partied hard at the team hotel in Durban on the night of the second 2-1 defeat against Cape Verde‚ following the first four days earlier in Praia — were notably sluggish.
And perhaps the public are right. They have invested so much emotional stock in Bafana in the past underachieving decade‚ only to suffer one disappointment after the other. Now the news the team partied after two shameful defeats that cost Bafana a World Cup Group D, which, thanks to the results around them‚ was being handed to them on a platter.
Of course, it was not the effects of the sun that motivated Gould’s response. Of course, the SuperSport United defender had to put on a brave face.
But if that is all Bafana have going into this game — bravado‚ and lacklustre training — then the question that might be asked is: who are those 300 saps who have bought the tickets sold so far? For the rest‚ one cannot blame them for giving up.
This Bafana thing has been a miserable‚ self-imploding‚ self-capitulating‚ mentally woeful‚ partying joke that has sapped their emotions like the sun consumed the players’ energy.
A suspension to Mulomowandau Mathoho and injury to Thulani Hlatshwayo have left Bafana thin at centreback‚ with Gould likely to be deployed there alongside club teammate Clayton Daniels.