Nice one, Bafana. Too nice
IN THE recent past, Bafana Bafana were so bereft of killer instinct, they might as well have been the secret love children of Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama. (Apologies for depositing that image in your mind.)
There were some signs last Friday of much-needed edge returning to the side.
But tonight's friendly against Mozambique will tell us more about Gordon Igesund's new era than the loss to Brazil.
It's easy to get amped for the glamour opponents - but if the zeal keeps going Awol against equivalent or weaker sides, the long-awaited revival just won't come.
And let's face it, Bafana could and should have been crueler in Sao Paulo. It was an honourable and promising showing. There was spirit and shape, and some excellent work from Itumeleng Khune, Siyabonga Sangweni, Bongani Khumalo, Kagisho Dikgacoi and Lerato Chabangu.
But towards the end, it must have been clear to Igesund and his troops that a draw or even a fabulous victory was up for grabs against nervous, underperforming hosts. That Bafana didn't carpe the diem should have pissed them off.
It goes without saying that thwarting Brazil is much easier said than done. Doing so would have been an unforgettable coup. But that's exactly why Igesund's post-match demeanour should have been less chirpy.
A real triumph had slipped away from him, friendly or not. Yes, we know the Brazilian fans applauded Bafana - but they did so in the patronising way that you applaud a feisty puppy who is gnawing your shoe.
Besides, football is not a popularity contest. It's way better to be hated by your opponents because you won.
Congratulations and good luck to Roger de Sa at Orlando Pirates. He is a surprising and potentially risky appointment, being an emotional character who often seems to lack the mind-to-mouth valve that keeps most of us out of trouble.
It's mighty hard to picture him seeing out the full three years of his contract, but even if he does depart from the Buccaneers before then, expect him to capture some silverware and improve many of his players before he goes. De Sa did some exceptional work in transforming Wits from a humdrum club to a progressive, highly professional talent factory.
He understands more than most of his peers how to refine, affirm and trust young players. And having developed Patrick Phungwayo, Sfiso Myeni and Lehlohonolo Masalesa at Wits, he will know how to maximise their considerable talents.
As for the recent handbaggery between De Sa and Benni McCarthy, they will probably be the best of mates within a week or two.
Here's wishing good health and a well-earned rest to Augusto Palacios.
He did a fantastic job to guide the side to the league last year, even though he kept nicking all his players' cellphones.
"Njenje" is an honourable servant of his club and adopted homeland.