I don’t know his name but for 90 minutes his presence toyed with my emotions, which swayed between ecstasy and joy to abject disappointment. The match yesterday was the endnote to yet another failed campaign.
The man in the yellow shirt, a Bafana Bafana replica jersey, was working for the SABC. He fussed over the corporation’s radio commentators, helping them with their equipment and updating them with what was happening in Congo while the commentators kept the country informed on what was happening in Durban. Congo is where eventual group leaders Ethiopia were playing the Central African Republic. CAR scored first, before Ethiopia drew level and scored the winner.)
The result of Bafana Bafana versus Botswana was almost a foregone conclusion. You get this sense from the way Bafana Bafana players and coach Gordon Igesund spoke the whole week about how they were going to beat Botswana at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. They had to, if they wanted to keep their dreams of appearing in the 2014 in World Cup in Brazil alive. A win would see them finish on top of Group A and advance to the play-offs of the World Cup qualifiers. But that depended on Central African Republic holding or beating Ethiopia in Congo. This is where the man in the yellow shirt comes in.
He walked around holding aloft a piece of paper with the score-line after every five minutes if things were still the same and instantly when goal has been scored. His first couple of visits were pleasant. It was 0-0 in Congo. By the half-hour mark, after Kermit Erasmus had put Bafana Bafana ahead, his sight was even more exciting for CAR was leading the Walia Antelopes.
At some point I stopped checking for updates online because the appearance of the yellow shirted man brought some theatrics, which the one-sided affair before my eyes didn’t quite bring. Bafana Bafana were doing all the attacking. There was a mistake by SuperSport who had tweeted that Ethiopia had equalised tearing apart my nervous filled joy much like Tokelo Rantie kept doing to the Zebras’ defence. After the inaccurate tweet, I decided to boycott the Internet and rely on manual updates from the man in the yellow shirt. Shortly before half-time Dean Furman made it two for Bafana Bafana, a development which had some South African journos claiming the party would be in Durban tonight.
But in the second half the man in the yellow shirt came back with information that put celebrations on hold. Gone was the spring he had in his step when he signaled that Ethiopia had equalised. It was still good news. Bafana Bafana would finish on top of the group on a better goal difference to join the 10 other group winners in the play-offs to fight for the five spots Africa is allocated. That was hope talking, not confidence. Confidence disappeared a long time ago to those who back Bafana Bafana.
A minute after the hour mark Teshome Minyahil dashed those hopes even though he had been responsible for bringing them back. Minyahil is the Ethiopian player who shouldn’t have played in the win over Botswana because he was supposed to have been serving his suspension. Those three points were docked to open a door for Bafana Bafana’s passage to the play-offs. But Minyahil shut them.
When the man in the yellow shirt returned to deliver the news, it seemed like his shirt was wearing him. The yellow shirt and disappointment are bedfellows. Bernard Parker made it three and four but the 4-1 win was meaningless. Ethiopia had won their match and finished on top of Group A.
I didn’t see the man in the yellow t-shirt again. I couldn’t get his opinion what with many opinions flying around calling for the coach’s head, some blaming his predecessor Pitso Mosimane and caretaker Steve Komphela who were responsible for Bafana Bafana’s two draws. What bothers me most is that I didn’t get his name.