FEAR OF FAILURE: Stuart Baxter says his manne know they will be embarrassed when results do not go Bafana’s way. Photo: BACKPAGEPIX
FEAR OF FAILURE: Stuart Baxter says his manne know they will be embarrassed when results do not go Bafana’s way. Photo: BACKPAGEPIX
DILEMMA: Has it become a burden to play for the Boks due to public expectation?. Photo: CHRIS RICCO/BACKPAGEPIX
DILEMMA: Has it become a burden to play for the Boks due to public expectation?. Photo: CHRIS RICCO/BACKPAGEPIX

Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter said something this week that made a whole lot of sense.

Speaking after South Africa’s disappointing 0-0 draw with Libya in an Afcon qualifier last weekend, the Scot said: “When it doesn’t go according to plan, players know that you guys [the media] will hammer them.

“They know they will be embarrassed. They are aware of all of that. They are patriotic, and they worry about it.”

It’s true.

When Bafana fail, they get crucified - by us the media, and you the public.

Sad, don’t you think? When a player steps out onto the field, he is not focused on winning the match or performing well, but just trying to avoid being publicly humiliated.

He is not motivated to do well, he is terrified of doing badly.

Where’s the glory and the joy in that?

No wonder players don’t want to play for their national teams.

Look, it is the role of the media and fans - of any nation - to point out when a team is playing k**.

Criticism and accountability are good for sports.

But Baxter, a foreigner who has coached in other countries before, feels South Africans are too harsh.

Perhaps that same fear of failure is getting the better of our Springboks.

The squad is loaded with local and Europe-based stars who perform week in week out.

But hand them a green and gold jersey and suddenly they forget how to catch and kick straight.

Is it the pressure of Test rugby that is too much to handle, or is it the burden of public expectation?

Could this be why the Proteas routinely choke in the big games?

Munier reckons it plays a big part.

South Africans are, by nature, very patriotic when it comes to their national sports.

But yoh! We can be negative, and we can moan and skel.

When we win, we are true blue fans; when we lose, then everyone must be fired.

Compare us with, let’s say, British sports fans.

Top of the log or bottom of the log, the stadiums are always propvol.

Their pride, passion and self-belief are on another level.

The England team has flopped at world cups for the past 50 years now, but with each new tournament, they firmly believe “football’s coming home”.

Mind you, it could also be arrogance, or racism, that feeds this notion that they are the best.

And not just at sport.

Take Brexit. Brits are so full of themselves, that they actually believe they don’t need to be part of the single European Union market.

In a globalised economy, they have voted to go it alone.

Madness, stupidity, suicide, some call it, but that’s how much faith they have in their little damp island.

And the UK media reinforces that national pride with unashamed British bias.

South Africa could learn from the Poms.

They could also take a few pointers from sterkgevriet Donald Trump and how he handles public scrutiny.

Whenever the US president or his administration get trashed in the media, “Fake nooz!” he tweets, and that’s the end of it.

Trump and his followers won’t listen to any of his critics. They stand by their man through sick and sin.

That level of blind loyalty is dangerous.

But a little bit of it wouldn’t harm South Africans.

We really need to be more positive and show more pride in ourselves, our country and our sports.

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