Jaco Van Der Merwe

By Jaco Van Der Merwe

Head of Motoring


South African fans seem to be easily pleased

You see, taken into account that we actually qualifying for something we’re not hosting is honourable indeed, but definitely not worth celebrating like we won something.


Picture it. A hall full of cheerful people who have just finished an extended celebratory cheer which included song, dance and toyi-toyiing for good measure while the group on stage are on cloud nine.

As soon as complete silence falls, an oke at the back starts a sarcastic clap and walks slowing down the aisle stepping on streamers, party hats and confetti, much to the disgust of the jovial bunch and their feted subject. He walks up to the stage, looks the group of men in their eyes, drops his cigar from his mouth, twists his foot on the burning ash and turns his back on them as he walks out to leave everyone in bewilderment.

The heroes on stage are none other than our beloved Bafana Bafana. The crowd is the general public going gaga over their ginormous achievement of qualifying for the Afcon finals and the sarcastic chap would be me … or every realist for that matter.

You see, taken into account that we actually qualifying for something we’re not hosting is honourable indeed, but definitely not worth celebrating like we won something. In all fairness, the amount of participants in Egypt have been increased from the usual 16 to all of 24, meaning that every team had a 31% bigger chance (if you discount the host) of qualifying than was the case in the past.

And do remember, there are only 50 African countries currently ranked by Fifa. That means that almost half of all teams on the continent will reach the Afcon finals in the revised 24-team event. Qualifying doesn’t sound all that spectacular now does it?

Not to mention the way in which we qualified, leaving to the very last game after kicking off the campaign with an historic away win against the only other proper footballing nation in the group, Nigeria.

And boy, did we join the upper echelons of African greats upon our remarkable feat. Also going to Egypt will be world No 101 Mauritania, No 106 Kenya, No 107 Madagascar, No 110 Namibia, No 113 Zimbabwe, No 118 Guinea-Bissau, No 125 Angola, No 137 Tanzania and No 138 Burundi. And it was touch and go for footballing powerhouses Lesotho, who were looking good for a spot but agonisingly missed out on the final match day.

Madagascar? I always thought there were more lemurs on the island than people.

As far as Namibia go, I thought they only had one person for every acre of sand. Do they even have 11 players?

And Zimbabwe? I know they have quite a few stars in the Absa Premiership, but can the national team even afford aviation fuel for their away trips taking into account their dire situation?

The way I see it, the likes of Namibia and Burundi have the right to celebrate, because for those nations qualification is as good as it will ever get. Every goal or point in Egypt will be a bonus.

Bafana are capable of doing much better than merely qualify, we are former champs for crying out loud. And we shouldn’t even dare say “at least we qualified” when they come crawling home from Egypt.

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