Forlorn after Forlan
Our man in South Africa, Lashias Ncube, says it is a vuvuzela-free zone after Bafana Bafana's defeat to Uruguay.
Last Updated: 17/06/10 11:49am
It is the morning after. To say the mood is sombre, funereal even, is a massive understatement.
I have not heard the sound of the vuvuzela - Bafana's much-criticised 12th man - not once, since I woke up this morning. No doubt the horny instrument will return to assault our eardrums later, but for now every man and his dog who have been whining about it will savour the respite.
Bafana Bafana's 3-0 defeat to Uruguay wasn't in the script. On national holiday June 16, the 34th anniversary of the Soweto Uprisings, Bafana were tipped to produce a performance that would be a fitting tribute to the bravery of the young black men and women, who, armed with sticks and stones, pitted themselves against the forces of the nefarious apartheid regime armed to the teeth.
Instead, another brutal massacre was perpetrated by Diego Forlan and his Uruguayan swashbucklers as Bafana capitulated quite spectacularly, leaving a nation's dreams shattered and the hosts teetering on the brink of elimination.
Bafana's performance was bereft of fight and defiance, the very antithesis of the gallantry exhibited by the thousands who put their bodies in harm's way on that fateful day in 1976.
Carlos Alberto Parreira can whinge all he likes about the referee; the naked truth of the matter is that Bafana lost not because Massimo Bussaca was incompetent, but because they were incompetent themselves.
Like naughty schoolboys, Parreira's charges had their bottoms suitably spanked, with Forlan wielding the biggest stick. They were outfoxed, outscored and outclassed by superior and tactically savvy opponents. Surely Parreira can't have any complaints about that?
Against Mexico, Bafana rode on a crest of a wave of emotion and euphoria to avoid defeat. Against Uruguay they needed more, something they couldn't find in their limited repertoire.
Local media post mortems of the draw against Mexico glossed over glaring frailties in favour of accentuating and exaggerating the positives. The brutal exposure of the gulf in class between Bafana and their Wednesday opponents peeled back the thin veneer to reveal the host team's soft underbelly that many of us knew already existed.
Maybe now a more thorough assessment and scrutiny of the national team's performances will begin. The fawning over Bafana by pundits of the national broadcaster, SABC, was becoming unbearable and quite nauseating.
Ahead of the Uruguay match, former Tottenham and Argentina star Ossie Ardiles, former Bafana captain Steve Khomphela and three-time African Footballer of the Year, Ghanaian Abedi Pele, all felt obligated to predict a victory for Bafana while exalting the virtues of Parreira's men.
One pundit, former Bafana midfielder John Moeti's prediction of a goalless draw provoked murmurs and muted jeers from the studio audience. He was the villain of the piece because his prediction wasn't what they wanted to hear.
The defeat to Uruguay disabuses the host nation of the false hope that their team can go all the way, hope informed by Bafana's manufactured confidence acquired on the back of friendly results against mediocre, hand-picked opponents during their World Cup preparations.
As a consequence, South Africa find their chances of progressing to the second round reduced to 'mathematical'. They will have to beat France in their final group match, and may have to do so handsomely, to stand a chance.