Posted on November 24, 2011 11:16
I remember Bafana Bafana playing against Brazil. We had won the AFCON in 1996 and were ready to tackle the World Champions, Brazil. I recall walking down the damp tunnel at the FNB Stadium in SOWETO. I looked across at the likes of Cafu, Dunga, Beberto, Romario, Rivaldo and the world’s top coach Mario Zagallo.
I looked at the faces of captain Neil Tovey, Doctor Khumalo, Helman Mkhalele and John Moeti. How would Bafana Bafana react against a nation that had dominated world football? The first belonged entirely to Bafana Bafana. Doctor Khumalo, Helman Mkhalele and John Moeti carved the South American team to pieces, scoring twice to lead 2-0 at half time.
As we walked back to the change room at half time ‘16V’ put his arm around my shoulder and said that he was exhausted. He had flown from the States arriving the night before the match. I discussed this with him and I asked him to give me another 20 minutes more and he agreed. The game changed dramatically. Cafu went forward at every opportunity.
Rivaldo started to dictate in the midfield and both Beberto and Romario were playing at their imperious best. I took Doctor off and with the game set at 2-2, Cafu crossed the ball to the far post. Beberto lost his markers and volleyed the ball past Andre Arendse. Brazil had come from behind to win a famous victory, 3-2. I made the mistake when I substituted Doctor Khumalo. While he was on we had a realistic chance to win so I apologized to the nation.
This weekend sees the in-form ‘Abafana Bes’thende’ take on a battling Orlando Pirates in the Telkom Knockout Challenge semi-final. Julio Leal will be feeling the pressure while Mushin Ertugral will feel just the opposite. Moses Mabhida Stadium is where it will happen. Good luck to Golden Arrows!