PRETORIA — Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula said the country had been deprived of glory for long enough and implored Bafana Bafana to make South Africa proud at the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament in Equatorial Guinea.
Speaking at the team’s send-off in Johannesburg on Wednesday, Mbalula said the current team had shown they had the potential to become great.
“This is a special moment for the country . . . and it is important that you, the players, should show a fighting spirit,” he said.
“You have restored the pride, the glory and belief of a nation. You must go there and compete for your country. This is what we have always wanted. I think you have come of age now.”
Bafana Bafana were jetting off to Gabon for a pre-tournament camp and were scheduled to play a warm-up match against Cameroon on Saturday in Libreville, before Afcon kicked off on January 17.
Mbalula, who a year ago called the Bafana team a “bunch of losers” after they were dumped out of the 2014 African Nations Championship (Chan), said a good team performance meant there was less to talk about off the field.
“We have to thank you when you are doing well because we talk a lot when things are not going well,” he added.