Soccer and rugby divide the Cape
In toss-up between Stormers and Bafana, locals tend towards rugby.
There were no signs something big was to take place at the Cape Town Stadium two hours before the Bafana Bafana match kicked off.
This was despite reports that more than 30 000 tickets had been sold for the crucial 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifier against the Central African Republic.
The only visible movements were those of traffic officers manning the roads.
With the Super Rugby match between the Stormers and the visiting Brumbies on the other side of town at Newlands, Cape Town fans were torn between rugby and football.
Moreover, the Absa Cape Epic was also in town.
The organisers of this Bafana match were hoping for a late rush, but the signs were not too good as people just wandered around going about their business.
Cape Town was not supposed to get this game but, thanks to R. Kelly, the game could not be taken to Bafana’s happy hunting ground at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. The US star’s concert was cancelled too late to shift the fixture.
Bafana coach Gordon Igesund sounded surprised when told the concert had been called off.
But someone should have known about the Stormers game, as rugby fixtures are publicised well in advance. To stage the Bafana game at this venue on the same day was suicidal, to say the least. The situation could have been easily avoided had the two sporting codes’ organisations worked together, with one game kicking off earlier.
Cape Town has never been Bafana’s fortress.
The last defeat here came at the hands of Norway in January.
Before then, they had lost to the US and Zambia.
This was a match Igesund needed to win to get Bafana’s World Cup qualifying campaign back on track after draws in the opening two matches against Ethiopia and Botswana.
Injuries to key players – Tsepo Masilela and Siyabonga Sangweni – deprived Igesund of his reliable defenders but he was still hopeful of the three points.
Prior to the match, Bafana players were in a cheerful mood as they wished defender Morgan Gould a happy 30th birthday.
The Kaizer Chiefs man was making a timely return to the team after missing the Africa Cup of Nations due to injury.
He last played for the national team in June against Gabon.
Most of the players took to social networks wishing the towering defender best of luck and even asked him to cap it with a goal.
Most importantly, they appealed for supporters to come out in numbers.
The visitors, on the other hand, sent a strong message of warning to Bafana that they would underestimate their opponents at their peril.
Captain Itumeleng Khune sounded optimistic ahead of the game, although he was going to play with a new back four in the absence of Masilela, Sangweni and Bongani Khumalo, who was dropped for this match.
All eyes were on Igesund’s team selection and whether it would be good enough to extract maximum points.
- Timothy Molobi in Cape Town