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Bafana, Boks cheer nation

SPORTING achievements involving the national teams can go a long way towards lifting the nation’s mood. This is especially true when the country is at a low ebb, due to the latest political and economic misfortunes.
The weekend’s victories for Bafana Bafana and the Springboks have restored the country’s pride in its national teams. Coming after a string of poor results, their performances have given the nation a temporary distraction from the daily realities confronting us. 
Bafana, the country’s senior football team, which has been on a downward spiral since winning the Africa Cup of Nations in 1996, pulled off a resounding 2-0 victory over the formidable Super Eagles of Nigeria. 
What made the win extra special is that it was the first time the national football team were able to beat Nigeria in a competitive match.
The historic victory took place in a packed stadium in Uyo, Nigeria, and this might be the signal that Bafana are no longer poor travellers. 
New Bafana coach Stuart Baxter, in his second stint at the national helm, seems destined to take his charges to the 2019 Nations Cup in Cameroon. 
Having started the Afcon qualifiers like a house on fire, the former Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport coach has the responsibility of ensuring Bafana don’t become complacent and underestimate less fancied opposition in Group E like Seychelles and Libya.
Like Bafana, the Boks’ fortunes had taken a dive in the past year, but their morale-boasting 34-17 win against France at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday might be the beginning of good things to come for coach Allister Coetzee and his charges.
Even though several of France’s star players were rested after playing a domestic cup final last Sunday, we hope Coetzee’s men can build on this weekend’s performance.
The Boks managed to balance flair and a ball-in-hand approach with sound defence and enough control to dictate the play. It was also encouraging that the young team were able to cross the French try-line four times, although one was a penalty try.
The Boks and Bafana still have plenty of work to do to become world-beaters again, but their weekend results have lifted our spirits and given us confidence that they might have turned the corner.