The Proteas have done it and so have the Springboks. Now it’s the turn of the South African national football team, Bafana Bafana.

With the Springboks proudly wearing the mantle of world champions and the Proteas Test team on the brink of becoming the top Test-playing nation in the world, much of the focus now swings Bafana Bafana’s way ahead into the Confederations Cup, starting in South Africa in June.

The Confederations Cup, the precursor to the 2010 World Cup being held in the Republic for the first time ever, is considered a dress rehearsal for 2010.

The pride South Africans felt when the Springboks battered England in France in the Rugby World Cup final in 2007 was similar to that experienced in 1995 when they were crowned champions for the first time.

Only last week that national pride was again evident via our cricketers, who not only beat Australia in the first Test but also in the second, taking on and beating their hosts in their own back yard.

It was a monumental moment and in doing so, they became the only South African cricket XI to ever win a Test series in Australia.

Entering 2009, South African soccer is on the brink of being part of the greatest sporting spectacle brought to our shores.

Not only is soccer the most widely played game in the country, it’s also played in more countries than any other sport.

Its appeal knows no boundaries, so when Bafana Bafana line up for their opening Confederations Cup against Iraq, the hopes of millions of South Africans from all walks of life will rest on their shoulders.

Despite the controversy regarding the choice of coach to replace Alberto Parreira, his Brazilian fellow countryman Joel Santana has slowly but surely begun to mould a Bafana Bafana side into a winning combination.

It’s not so much the fact that Bafana Bafana won their last four matches consecutively, but rather their progress made as a team.

They played brilliant football in thumping Equatorial Guinea 4-1, also beating mighty Cameroon 3-2 in their final clash last year.

The result was that for the first time in years, following hot and cold performances, fans were able to puff out their chests in approval.

It took four years for coach Jake White to mould a squad of champions, while the Proteas’ Mickey Arthur built a winning Test combination in three years, and is busy doing the same with a young one-day team.

Hopefully Santana, with far less time at his disposal, will also succeed with Bafana Bafana.

PUBLICATION: Daily Dispatch Online
DATED: 5th January 2009