The Nosebleed Section #10
This week's highlight has without a doubt been Bafana Bafana's inspiring performance against Angola on Wednesday. On Saturday, Gordon Igesund's players could hardly be called a team, so disjointed and apparently nervous they were. The transformation over only four days was remarkable.
To be fair, the Bafana I have seen since Igesund took over has been a team trying to find its feet. Of course a new coach brings new ideas and makes changes to the tactical and strategic system.
Igesund didn't make many selection changes, despite searching high and low to ensure he didn't miss the next big thing.
Eventually, the team he has settled for is not far from the one picked consistently by Pitso Mosimane.
So our experienced and skilled players were settling into life under Igesund, and from my point of view that period culminated after the goalless draw against Cape Verde on Saturday.
The public and critical reaction was spot on. Bafana Bafana seemed to be heading nowhere if that was the way they would be playing during the Africa Cup of Nations.
I believe Igesund would rather draw that match than lose and we may also have judged the opener to be our toughest group game, with Angola and Morocco not being the football forces they once were.
Either way, the fallout from the dull goalless draw was like that first argument in a marriage…
Perhaps players and fans were asking themselves the same questions newly-weds may have after the honeymoon period: Is he the man for me? Will this work out? Can we live together? Will she accept my flaws? How can we complement each other?
So, while the first marital bust-up leads to some doubt, I can tell you nothing's sweeter than making up. Yes, we all fell in love with Bafana all over again when they beat Angola 2-0. Like a good lover, Bafana did it with style and confidence.
The doubt has been overwhelmed by the passion of a side that knows it let a nation down. The performance was a serenade to fans. A bouquet of roses to say: "I'm sorry."
Surely nothing feels better than to be loved and Bafana Bafana deserve that after a gutsy performance.
Igesund gambled. He played with his heart just a bit. He had drilled and trained this team for months to fit into a system, to adjust to his way. This week he told them to be brave and play without fear.
Igesund has done his best to lay a foundation and instill as much technical and tactical knowledge into his team. It was time for the boys to forget all that and play to their natural ability. Rest assured Igesund's foundation has not been forgotten, it's just becoming part of each and every player.
Perhaps before the Angola renaissance, the players were totally focused on getting the tactical decisions correct because in general they seemed more robotic and less fluid. Now they may just have settled into life with Igesund.
They have married their personalities and abilities with the vision of their leader. We should be very impressed with the precise execution of the gameplan on Wednesday.
Igesund's talk about attacking, gambling, playing without fear and being brave was played out almost perfectly on the field.
This is it. We're onto something good. Perhaps a match made in heaven as they say. This union between Bafana Bafana and Igesund, and indeed the fans, could go the distance.
Further down the line there will be more arguments, disagreements, misunderstandings and heartbreak, but remember there will always be that sweet make up afterwards.
This team could sweep the nation off its feet and make us proud.
The honeymoon period is not quite over because Bafana Bafana still have to qualify for the knockouts. They need at least a draw against Morocco on Sunday.
Failure to qualify will again introduce doubt, but they say love is blind and another passionate performance will make the heart grow fonder.
Wesley Petersen is EWN's Cape Town Sports Editor and afternoon sports anchor.