Jonty Mark

By Jonty Mark

Football Editor


OPINION – Bafana fever shows why PSL football is needed back in Bloemfontein

The Free State's love for the beautiful game was in evidence again on Tuesday.


It would be wonderful to write that a packed Free State Stadium on Tuesday evening is proof that a nation’s faith in Bafana Bafana has been restored.

Bafana’s 3-1 victory over Zimbabwe certainly gave further evidence that this team is making impressive progress under Hugo Broos, and that qualifying for the 2026 Fifa World Cup is within their grasp.

But it would also be remiss to talk about a packed Free State Stadium and not talk about the perfect, somewhat lamentable storm that almost certainly contributed to this soulful, impassioned crowd in Bloemfontein on Tuesday evening.

This is a football-mad city, after all, that for several years now, has not had a professional football club to support. Through a combination of mis-management and a failing economy, Bloemfontein Celtic have disappeared from view.

The entire Free State province, indeed, does not have a professional team, following the demise of Free State Stars.

Bloemfontein was always the one city you could visit in South Africa where you were guaranteed to see people walking the streets in Bloemfontein Celtic shirts, and not those of Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.

A sight to behold

On matchday, Celtic v Chiefs or Celtic v Pirates in Bloemfontein had a ‘proper’ football atmosphere, with both sides well-represented in the stands. Celtic fans in full voice at the Free State Stadium was truly a sight to behold.

All of this is gone now from the Premier Soccer League, and the Premier Soccer League is a worse place for it.

The Free State’s love for the beautiful game was in evidence again on Tuesday, as the fans poured into the ground to support their nation. A 14-year wait for Bafana to come to Bloemfontein no doubt also contributed to the fervour among the supporters.

And they got their money’s worth, as Bafana took down Zimbabwe to keep the World Cup dream very much alive. To top that, it was a former Celtic player, Thapelo Morena, who was the hero of the hour with a second half brace.

They should take more Bafana games to Bloemfontein. But also someone, somewhere, needs to bring PSL football back to Bloemfontein. It is badly missed.

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