Minister of Sport and Recreation South Africa the Honourable Fikile Mbalula has wished Bafana Bafana well ahead of the upcoming Orange CAF African Nations Championship (South Africa 2014).
Minister Mbalula visited the squad at their base camp in Cape Town on Tuesday (7 January) to offer words of encouragement before the start of the tournament on Saturday, 11 January 2014.
South Africa takes on Mozambique in the opening, and will follow up with Mali then round off the group stages play with a clash against Nigeria.
“If you go with the mentality that teams have not sent strong players here you are going to be surprised by Mozambique. They will want to come here and embarrass you,” said Minister Mbalula.
‘And you don’t want to appear as people who did not give their all and did not want to represent their country. I thought I needed to emphasise that point that we have pride in you, and we are confident that all of you will make this country of ours proud. Rewards come at the end, not at the beginning.”
The Minister also put on the record that this competition is crucial for the growth of the national team.
“Anyone who says this competition is not serious is making a big mistake and misleading the country. This competition is taking place in South Africa and is a very important competition. All the 16 teams that are coming here have not been invited or co-opted or asked by CAF to come here, they had to compete to get here. They earned their right to be in South Africa with us. It is time for the people of SA to have pride,” added Minister Mbalula.
“You are going to compete with the best on the African continent. This is our path and journey to glory. It starts with CHAN.”
In thanking the minister for his visit, Bafana Bafana captain Itumeleng Khune said players were positive about the road ahead.
“We are going to go out there with the knowledge that we have your support and the country’s. As players we need to inform you that we are taking this tournament very seriously and will do our best to ensure great results,” said Khune.
Speech by Minister Mbalula meeting Bafana Bafana
It is always a privilege to speak to our countrymen when they are going to do national duty…. it is an honour to convey messages of goodwill from the people of South Africa.
Anyone who says this competition is not a serious agenda for us is making a big mistake. And is misleading the country and I dare say that the players must never mislead themselves. This competition is taking place in South Africa, it’s an important competition. All the 16 teams that are coming here have not been invited or co-opted or asked by CAF to come here. They had to compete to get here. They earned their right to be in SA with us.
It is time for the people of SA to have pride. It is time that we must rise to the occasion, and you represent a generation. Many young people would have loved to wear the national team jersey, but they are not here. You are the players who are going to represent us, you are going to compete with the best on the African continent. We are rising from the ashes and we are claiming our mark.
This is our path and journey to the glory, and it starts with CHAN, a very important competition. It is not a fluke or anything. Others don’t have the burden that we have, they don’t host such competitions, and we are expected to win and we have to do it for SA and do it for Nelson Mandela because it is in honour that today we are able to host competitions of this order, it is in honour that we have pride, and we are expected to perform.
You have an opportunity to make history and represent generations to come.
You are going to face nations that are prepared but we expect you to win. If you don’t win, we must say you had intentions to win. Do not get there with a fluke mentality of mediocrity that this competition is not important - please don’t make that mistake.
Even if it is not on the FIFA calendar it is important. Other nations will judge us because we became glorious on the African continent, and that is where all things begin.
None of us here look at ourselves and teams and clubs, we look at ourselves as South Africans. And not all of us here have had the opportunity to go play outside the country.
Everyone will be watching you because of your talent and skill, and tomorrow you will be right up there representing SA internationally. Use this stage, work with the coaches, have a collective spirit and go make the country proud – there is not reason we can’t.
If you go with the mentality that teams have not send strong players here you are going to be surprised by Mozambique – who were not asked to come here, but won their way to this stage of the competition. And they will want to come here and embarrass you.
And you don’t want to appear as people who did not give their all and did not want to represent their country and I thought I needed to emphasise that point that we have pride in you, and we are confident that all of you will make this country of ours proud. Rewards come at the end, not at the beginning.
When you have won, now you can claim your reward. That is why we do not declare at the beginning because it is not about money but about the pride. But for what you shall do and make you country proud, we will not stand by and do nothing when our countrymen, called up for national duty, did the best they could, then we have to reciprocate – the stage is yours.
We can speak but action is with you, it is you who is going to do the talking and what we are about as SA is that we will be all the way behind you and make sure that you succeed. And I hope all our people will come in droves to support our team when they take on the giants of the African continent for the last important competition under the auspices of CAF, which is the CHAN.
All the best to each one of you, and to those who are new make this the platform to become even better going into the future. Good luck and congratulations in advance.
I have been with this team on several occasions, through the ups and down, and I have seen the fighting spirit – from us losing to Ethiopia, I looked at you and I knew that luck was not on our side in that match. And you must never entertain people who don’t even play football when they say you were not good enough. The fact is that you did the best you could but luck surpassed you. This team has been growing, and to beat Spain was not a fluke.
They came here with all their stars and they played but you did us proud. That is why the president o fhte country, the former president and many important people came to the dressing room after that match.
The head of state doesn’t come to the dressing room to meet cowards and failures. They come to meet champions. If you are failure, you will be like that until you die – and you will tell your children many stories of lies. But if you are a champion we will be with you – but equally so in failure.
You have all our support and I believe you can make it because the best team has been selected - go out there and do your duty.
The president of the country will be there on Saturday, at the stadium to come and watch you. Probably the presidents of other countries will come - so who says the competition is not important when presidents of other countries come to give support to their teams.
We can speak a lot from the sidelines but on the day the 11 men given a chance to play are the ones who must do their job.
Thank you very much for the honour addressing you, and all the best once again.