PUN-ting ahead 07 (18-22/JAN/13) – “Bafana-Ba’AFCoN” Edition

Very few nations, if at all any, have such an intriguing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCoN) history as South Africa do.  While most of The Motherland admires (yes begrudgingly) South Africa for being the general benchmark of progress, their AFCoN record reads like a deliberate attempt to somehow make progress while firmly engaging the reverse gear!  They will be hoping to rectify a lot of things via this re-arranged tournament which was handed to them mainly because of their solid infrastructure, which is seen (again begrudgingly) as the general benchmark on the continent.  What most nations won’t begrudge them is their most recent record in the AFCoN, BUT before we PUNt Ahead, let’s take a step back with Bafana-Bafana.

  • 1996 – SA came out of its naughty-Apartheid-corner to host the AFCoN party.  They dazzled the continent with their shoeshine-piano brand of football and benefitted from all the Madiba Magic that Nelson Mandela had leftover from the 1995 Rugby World Cup, to emerge as unlikely CHAMPIONS OF AFRICA!… A GIANT leap forward, as the fat lady majestically holds the final note to Nkosi Sikelel’iAfrica!
  • 1998 – Without the comforts of home cooking, and the glow of Madiba Magic being re-assigned to ensure that SA made it to its maiden World Cup, the Champions of Africa still dazzled their way to the FINAL.  BUT they were to eventually emerge with a second place finish.  The shoooes were losing their shine & the piano was slightly off key….  A small step back!  BUT hey siyaya eFrance siyaayaaa siyayaaa!!
  • 2000 – Most nations would be proud to make it to the SEMI-FINALS of their continental showpiece, BUT not when you happen to be the recent former champions & current former finalists.  It does not hit the right notes or appease the fans who are accustomed to being dazzled by some shoeshine!  All it does confirm is yet another…. small step back!
  • 2002 – The tune from the piano is now becoming all too familiar.  SA will make the knockout stages but yet again (perhaps due to a lack of clarity on her performance bonus) the fat lady sings sooner than expected as Bafana-Bafana exit as QUARTER FINALISTS of Africa! ….Another small step back!
  • 2004 – Okay so now the sequence is firmly in place.  In the midst of chaotic preparations someone at SAFA forgets to pack the piano.  This means the fat-lady is forced into an impromptu performance, which also coincides with a “premature” exit for Bafana at the GROUP STAGE! …. Another wobbled step backwards!
  • 2006 – A decade since they were continental champions and by now the fans were clamouring for a change of forTUNES, and preferably a switch to a loooooong play version.  BUT all that SAFA could do was to keep changing the Pianist, which irritated the team and the fat lady.  While all concerned parties bickered about appearance fees the fat lady merely cleared her throat and Bafana again exited at the GROUP STAGE…. and…waaait for it……. without even scoring a goal!!… Yet another staggering step back!
  • 2008 – Another tournament another lead Pianist, same old forTUNES!  This time Bafana gallantly pulled themselves up by the dusty bootstraps of their once shiny shoes and scored some goals!!  BUT they still failed to play beyond the GROUP STAGE! …. Hold your position!
  • 2010 – It was finally time for the Motherland to “feel it” for indeed the FIFA World Cup was here!  With the focus being justifiably biased towards being the perfect 1st time African hosts of the world’s greatest football show piece, South Africa pulled out ALL the stops!  An expensive pianist with world-class pedigree (and a far more infectious Samba rhythm) was employed.  Sadly, he had to go and take care of his ailing Old Lady, and the fat lady (feeling disrespected by the calibre of unknown Brazilian pianist who had been thrust upon her on short notice) did not even sing, as Bafana FAILED TO QUALIFY FOR AFCoN!! …. Giant fall backwards!
  • 2012 – Back to a local Pianist who was not only a former Bafana but more importantly, had also understudied a number of the past pianists.  Surely there could be no way of doing any worse than failing to qualify for the previous AFCoN?  BUT somehow this local pianist and his supporting cast of players and administrators managed to do just that.  They put in a splendidly choreographed “non-performance” that serenaded the Rainbow Nation into delirium, which was soon cut short by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).  CAF informed them that Bafana’s efforts fell short of the required standard of the So-You-Think-You-Can-Dance special edition of AFCoN!  Bafana (and the entire football fraternity) had not only failed to comprehend the simple instructions for qualification BUT they had also once again FAILED TO QUALIFY FOR AFC0N!!  …. Another uncoordinated step back!
  • 2013 – If you can’t qualify with, or beat them…. host them!  The Saga continues for Bafana with yet another Pianist. One of the benefits of hosting is being seeded which will hopefully help Bafana-Bafana to reassert themselves on the Continent.  In AFCoN debutants Cape Verde they have a seemingly easy opening act.  BUT the islanders’ higher CAF and FIFA ranking (where they are 15th & 70th compared to Bafana-Bafana’s 22nd & 85th respectively) should hold them in good stead.  Because of past hurts the partisan 90,000+ crowd at the re-branded National Stadium will probably be too anxious to contribute as the 12th man, BUT they should do just enough to help fulfil my PUNt for A NERVY & TENSE OPENING SCORE DRAW!

AFCoN QUICK-PUNts 

  • Angola -v- Morocco: – my PUNt = Stalemate between the Sable Antelopes & Atlas Lions
  • Ghana -v- DRC:- my PUNt =  WIN for Ghana as The Black Stars shoot past the Congolese Leopards.
  • Zambia -v- Ethiopia:- my PUNt = Zambia WIN as the Black Lions of Ethiopia are gunned down by the Chipolopolo.
  • Ivory Coast -v- Togo:- my PUNt = Ivory Coast VICTORY owing to the Togolese Sparrow Hawks being swatted away by the mighty trunks of The Elephants.
  • Tunisia -v- Algeria:- my PUNt = Algeria WINs as The Carthage Eagles of Tunisia are narrowly out-foxed by the Desert Foxes.

The conflict in TV scheduling that the AFCoN has brought about has resulted in my PUN-African side determining the winner in the inevitable Club –v- Country debate.  I sincerely hope that those of you who were hoping for some club footy PUNts will not be too disappointed (besides some of you will still have someone to back at a national level rather than their usual club level. PLUS there was no telling how many fixtures would be cancelled due to bad weather, which is NOT in a factor in the glorious MOTHERLAND).  Whatever your present disposition is, I do hope that any frosty disappointments will soon thaw away and y’all will be gracious enough to still…. pardonthePUN-dit

 Until the next SUP-Ah!?-SLOW-MO Review.

Be Great!

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