Then there was relief. After a week spent facing dim media forecasts, Bafana Bafana, so often the embodiment of disappointment, actually did it. They stood up, looked the script in the eyes, and said: “Enough is enough.”
We’re going to Egypt! We get to play in the Africa Cup of Nations once more.
Best news of all? We got to watch it all unfold, thanks to Eskom taking a break from load-shedding.
Seeing coach Stuart Baxter’s childlike joy as he jumped up and down with his players is the kind of feel-good content that has been at a premium recently.
Qualification also completes a tasty line-up of competitions that are coming up this year — all of which we actually get to play in.
There’s the football Women’s World Cup, of course. We’re still high from Banyana Banyana’s heroic journey in getting there and are counting the weeks until our maiden tournament.
The big men’s teams of South African sport — cricket and rugby — have their own World Cups to look forward to. Unreasonable or not, we expect them to win and we have the warm, fuzzy feeling of anticipation running through us.
In this rare snapshot of time, all our teams seem to be fulfilling their purpose: giving us a pleasant distraction from everyday life.
Sadly, they also represent our tendency not to look beyond the here and now. Just as load-shedding will return, so too will reality return to the pitch. The Proteas and Springboks aren’t world-beaters. Banyana got smashed in the Cyprus Cup. Bafana should never have been in the weekend’s position in the first place.
Still, as always, we’ll take what we can get.