Itu & Bafana keeps us dreaming of a Russian miracle

Phenomenal is one word that can best describe Bafana Bafana’s performance on Saturday the 7th October 2017 at the FNB Stadium. They basically shred the Mighty Stallions from Burkina Faso into pieces and in doing so kept their chances of reaching the World Cup 2018 Finals in Russia alive. It had been long since our national team performed with such a combination of ruthlessness and swagger to bring the Burkinabe, the team that was sitting on top of their group, down to its knees.

In South Africa, it is very hard to look at the National Team and not wear the colours of your favourite club. This was once more the case as some fans were saying the good omen is that there was no Pirates players whilst the others were saying that it was the because the Sundowns connection. On the other hands many has attributed the performance of the team on the huge shoulders of the Kaizer Chiefs majestic goalkeeper, Itumeleng Khune.

This made every Khosi fan to float on cloud nine and for a little while forget the dark cloud that has befallen their club. However, despite all the banter, all Mzansi football lovers must have been proud of the performance by Baxter and his soldiers. This comprehensive victory caused the current Minister of Police, Mr Fikile Mbalula, to change his famous tune of, “a bunch of losers”, to that of “a bunch of winners”.

The team was solid at the back and gave the strong Stallions attackers few opportunities. The midfield performance reminded me of the good times when the Bafana Bafana midfield had the steel of Eric Tinkler and Linda Buthelezi fuelling the likes Doctor Khumalo and the late John Shoes Mosheou to mix style and class in reducing their opponents into mere scarecrows. The attack was ruthless and clinical firing in three goals past a very formidable defence is no child’s play. The touches of Percy Tau, Themba “Mshishi” Zwane and of course Sibusiso Vilakazi took old timers like myself back to the times when we would believe we can fly under Clive Barker (ndizani Bafana ndizani).

Now, if there is one man that deserve the famous “give that man a Bells” slogan, then it would be none other than Itumeleng Khune. If Manuel Neuer is the best goalkeeper in the world then this man is the best, not only in South Africa but in Africa. In fact, if he was playing for a club that has been regularly competing in African Club Competition, he would surely have been a strong contender for the best player on the African continent. He is a soldier with a big heart, a consummate professional that hates losing and on top of that a great leader of men that inspires those he leads.

He competes well with most goalkeepers like David De Gea, Gigi Buffon and Ter Stegen when it comes to all the qualities that make goalkeepers to be rated as “great keeper” except for height, of course. However, the man has virtually revolutionised the art of counter attacking football from his position as goalkeeper. Never, ever have I witnessed such accuracy when it comes to ball distribution by a goalkeeper. It is unheard off for a goalkeeper to have an average pass accuracy of over 70%. The pass for the second and third goals, scored by Themba Zwane and Vilakazi respectively, was just to amazing to be put in words.

Once more I take my hat off to the goalkeeping genius called Itumeleng Khune. I hope that whatever inspired him to pump up his performances and regain his true potential last for many years. I believe with him in such an inspiring form Bafana Bafana may achieve big things even if they reaching Russia 2018 might just be a step too far. However, I would continue believing, like the late Luther Vandross, that little miracles happen everyday. Who knows, Russia might still be a possibility for Bafana Bafana.

From the Armchair Football GuruAndile Namntu