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South Africa 0-3 uruguay

Bafana Bafana fans left cold by defeat

June 16, 2010
By Firdoose Moonda
(Archive)

"I had so much hope, and now it's all gone," said one of my colleagues in the newsroom, one of those who isn't too concerned with sport most of the time. She's not alone because millions of South Africans feel that way after Wednesday's result.

South Africa child woe
GettyImagesA South African child is left distraught after Bafana Bafana's loss on Youth Day
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World Cups confuse us, especially because they've given us so many mixed expectations in the past. We're used to being let down by our cricket team, who tend to choke, either very early on in a tournament or once they've reached the semi-finals. We're used to our rugby team winning, they've secured two world titles in 12 years, so who can blame us. But with football, well, we just don't know.

Bafana Bafana have only previously qualified for two World Cup finals and have never really been expected to get very far. This time it's different. The hallowed ground of home was expected to be a major contributing factor to progression, at least to the second round. After a promising first match, the clash with Uruguay was marked as D-day.

Everything was auspicious about the day. It's a public holiday which celebrates the day students protested against the Apartheid government's racially skewed education policy. Those demonstrations resulted in child fatalities, which shocked the South African public and the world so much that it's now marked as a day which celebrates the power and courage of those young people. It is commemorated as a day of hope and progression and a sign of how far the country has come. To play the game on such a day could only be a good sign.

The clash was also to be played on blessed ground. Loftus is home to the Bulls, three time Super 14 rugby champions, who have created a fortress at that venue. Many believe there's magic in that turf and hoped Bafana would be able to extract some of it.

Their optimism was fuelled by the past 10 days, which have been filled with celebration for Bafana. The team went on a parade through the city, have drawn close to a million fans on their official fan page and have had major companies throw their weight behind them. Tonight, all that turned to dust - and not the magic kind.

One fan, who left the stadium along with many others after Diego Forlan's penalty which made the score 2-0 in Uruguay's favour, said, "There was not a single vuvuzela blowing, not a smile on anyone's face at Loftus."

That was how hard the harsh reality of defeat, something Bafana and their fans have not felt in 13 matches, hit the many South Africans who had only just begun to fall in love with the football team again. As the disgruntled fan put it, "It's a cold night in South Africa but this result only left us feeling even colder."