Bafana Bafana start their road to the World Cup today at 3pm against Zimbabwe.
For many fans and pundits, it’s hard to be positive about South Africa’s chances of making it to Qatar.
In a group with our neighbours to the north, Ghana’s Black Stars and Ethiopia, SA are the only team who failed to qualify for next year’s Afcon. So there’s that.
Ghana were also Bafana’s nemesis in their Afcon qualifying group, so expect a bit of an inferiority complex to come into it with the Blacks Stars no doubt confident of handing SA another pak.
Not to mention, Zimbabwe boasting a number of stars who are intimately familiar with their South African PSL colleagues.
But the biggest factor against Bafana is the number of inexperienced players in new coach Hugo Broos’ squad.
Having discarded a lot of the failing group from their previous Afcon campaign, the Belgian has gone for fresh blood.
And while his bravery is commendable, his selections have left some question marks.
Take his decision to only name one defensive midfielder in his group – Mothiba Mvala.
Mvala’s Mamelodi Sundowns colleague Rivaldo Coetzee is probably rated ahead of the Bafana incumbent. And with him having struggled with a groin injury for most of the week, Bafana could already be on the back foot.
Broos, though, won’t care. His new picks have certainly given him confidence after six wins on the trot.
Playing that down because it was in the Cosafa Cup – a Mickey Mouse competition in the eyes of most Bafana fans – won’t matter a jot to him or his players.
What should be a concern is SA’s performance at the Olympics, where they lost all of their matches.
Still, hope springs eternal and now it’s time for Broos, his staff and selections to demonstrate the competence for which the South African Football Association (Safa) has placed in them.
Broos took an unfancied Cameroon all the way to the Afcon 2017 title and has been mandated to get SA to the next Afcon and 2026 World Cup and I guess we all have to strap in and ride this out.
Who knows, maybe Bafana surprises us all.