Abafana baseMzansi – Part 2

Memba Ben By Memba Ben, 26th Jul 2018 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Sports>Football (Soccer)

Part 2 of a series profiling the history of the South African national football team with a specific look at the lead up to their first international game since readmission.

The Boys come out to play.

Historically, South Africa has been blessed with some great footballers.

Ancient folks could tell you about how the likes of Eric Sono and Patson Banda were equals with the likes of Ferenc Puskas or Lev Yashin. Older folks could tell you how the likes of Jomo Sono, Kaizer Snr and Mlungisi Ngubane were respected by legends like Pele and early clips of pre-PSL football would reveal how the likes of Ace Ntsoelengoe and Teenage Dladla dazzled the masses with their abilities.

The fact that these names withstood the test of time coupled with the stories we younger fans heard about them while growing up and the fact that legendary players of our times looked up to them suggests that they were every bit as good as history says they were but because of the segregation of the time, they were unable to represent the nation.

When Bafana Bafana had been readmitted into both CAF and FIFA in 1992, a new crop of players who were eager to prove themselves on a larger stage had taken the torch from previous legends and at the helm of leading the charge was the national team manager, Stanley "Screamer" Tshabalala.

A legendary figure in South African football, he earned the nickname for his constant shouting for the ball in his playing days. While by all accounts Screamer was a good player in his day (he played for Kaizer Chiefs), it was through coaching that he made his mark. Bringing a slick passing game that emphasized attacking and defending as a unit team to Mamelodi Sundowns (famously known as "piano and shoeshine football") in a time when players preferred to do everything on their own paid off as Stanley's approach won Mamelodi Sundowns eight titles before he left to return to Kaizer Chiefs as a coach and then later the national team.

In their first game back, South Africa faced off against Italia '90 World Cup quarter-finalists Cameroon. By all accounts it was an even match with either side having multiple opportunities but with Doctor "16v" Khumalo's penalty, South Africa was able to register their first post-isolation win and prove they had the ability to hang with the best that Africa had to offer.

However, their international inexperience and inability to deal with foreign tactics proved costly as they failed to qualify for the 1994 African Cup of Nations.

Despite that, the country was optimistic about the teams’ future going forward and as it would turn out, they had every reason to be.

If you missed the previous installment:


Football Soccer, History, Soccer, South Africa

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author avatar Memba Ben
A fan's view on the business of football.

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