FIFA World Cup 2010: Bafana, Bafana, What Happened To You Yesterday?

Philip CramerContributor IIJune 17, 2010

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 16:  The South Africa team line up ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group A match between South Africa and Uruguay at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on June 16, 2010 in Tshwane/Pretoria, South Africa.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Michael Steele/Getty Images

Bafana, Bafana, you broke my heart. 

Where was the team that came alive against Mexico and almost beat them? Yesterday, that team was nowhere to be seen.  Yesterday, you looked like the team that is ranked 83rd by FIFA.  Yesterday, you proved why all the critics wrote you off before the World Cup even started. 

It isn't that you lost.  Uruguay showed us they are a very good team that played with discipline and commitment.  There is no shame in losing to a team that plays well.  The difference is that they played with passion and commitment, and you did not. 

You were beaten to the ball too many times.  They ran you down from behind.  They fought harder and they showed heart.  I did not sense that from you, Bafana. 

Siphiwe Tshablala, when you said before the game that Uruguay was in plenty of trouble, you stirred up a hornet's nest.  It only inspires your opponent. 

Perhaps the team was too confident. I confess that we were all confident.  The team played well in the games before the Cup, especially the last one, when you outplayed and beat a good Denmark side.  We all believed the low FIFA ranking was a reflection of the past, not of the present.

Coach Parreira, you blamed the referee after the game.  It was not the referee's fault.  It was a penalty, even if Itumeleng Khune did not intend to foul.  It was unlucky because the tip of his foot accidentally caught Luis Suarez's foot.  That is still a penalty, even though the red card was harsh.  What I cannot understand is why you made no changes in the lineup or the tactics when it was clear nothing was working. 

South Africa is still proud of Bafana.  It is not over yet, and the team brought joy to a nation that has welcomed the rest of the world.  The country is sad but they are not upset.  We know you did your best on an emotional day for usNational Youth Day, when we remember those school children who stood tall and defiant in the face of police bullets to oppose an evil system.

South Africa is still new to international soccer and the team still has a lot to learn, but this will make Bafana stronger.  It isn't over yet and we still have one game left.  It will be difficult to make it to the next round.  We have nothing to lose, so all I ask is that you find the heart and the ability that the team has. Even if we don't advance, Bafana and the country will hold their heads high.