Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Hair today, gone tomorrow: how I was scalped live on eTV Sunrise thanks to Bafana's blow-out

THIS all started with Ray White ( when he asked me to talk about South Africa playing a very young Norway on Talk Radio 702 ( on Tuesday. I casually said to him: "If they lose to this bunch of Vikings, I'll shave all my hair off."

And of course when I went on air, I repeated my ridiculously optimistic promise. The scenes above took place before my weekly appearance on eTV Sunrise. Hairy, but necessary.

I'd spoken to Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund on the Early Breakfast, he'd sounded so confident, so happy about his "Dream Team" as they prepared for the African Cup of Nations, which kicks off on January 19 at Soccer City.

Cutting edge: Sunrise's Desiree the depilator
Five hours later, there we were, watching a packed Cape Town Stadium - sold out with nearly 35,000 in the ground - lament the continuing woes of their national football team in the penultimate friendly before hosting AFCON 2013.

Katlego Mphela, the man who suffered sore Kneeskens until Johan left Mamelodi Sundowns, nearly got an early goal but there was nothing Itumeleng Khune could do when Tarik Elyounoussi, the Norwegian captain (ironically a Moroccan who moved to Scandinavia aged 12), scored the only goal four minutes before half-time.
Mphela, still showing signs of ring rust after his long injury lay-off, was replaced in the second-half but even with all three of his other strikers on, Igesund's Bafana couldn't produce an equaliser, let alone a winner.

Thusa Phala, the unknown Platinum Stars midfielder, was voted man of the match for his second half destruction of the young Viking left back... but he, like Majoro, Parker and Rantie, failed to find the net despite numerous chances.

Chiskop meets Gord: me at Monte Casino on January 10, 2013 with the
Bafana Bafana manager Gordon Igesund who has, idirectly, become
my barber. He told me at the SuperSport AFCON launch: "I think it suits
you!" He also revealed: "I haven't played my best side yet."

What was it Pitso Mosimane, the previous Bafana boss said? "South Africans can't score goals at international level". Oh how the injured Benni McCarthy, despite his weight and age, is missed.

Igesund produced some brave after match comments after a depressing defeat, insisting: "We will be hard to beat at AFCON, I'm disappointed but I still believe we are starting to show our worth as a unit."

As Gordon's greatest fan, I have to say that's a little optimistic. With Algeria to come in the final friendly in Johannesburg on Saturday, it's cheeky outsider Cape Verde at Soccer City to open AFCON on January 19. The Group A fixtures will be completed by games against Angola and Morocco at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.

Close shave: with Sindy Mabe
Anything less than six points is likely to bring a repeat of the 2010 World Cup scenario under Carlos Alberto Parreira, when South Africa became the first hosts not to emerge from the pool stages. I'm predicting another four-point failure - at the World Cup, South Africa drew with Mexico, lost to a Diego Forlan-inspired Uruguay and beat falling stars France but failed to qualify by a single goal-post.

Captain Bongani Khumalo gave a more realistic appraisal of the situation, confessing: "We have a lot of work to do," but in his public school English, he added: "We will be ready by January 19."

Sadly, my hair won't. My spirit of optimism, forged in the face of bickering, negative Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs fans complaining about the composition of Gordon's Bafana - I'm not sure Andile Jali, Sifiso Myeni or Sundowner Teko Modise would really have made a difference - has taken a serious knock.

But hey, hair today, gone tomorrow I say. I continue to trust Gordon. At least until half-time against the minnows from the volcanic islands 250 miles west of Africa. And having been compared to Chester Missing, Ed Jordan and Kojak after my barbaric haircut, I have to say, optimism grows on you.

Spot the bald: at the eTV studios in Hyde Park, Joburg
I will baldly go to the final frontier with Gordon and his Boys. He knows as well as anybody failure to reach the last four will result in summary dismissal from the hottest South African seat outside of Nkandla.

So I wear my "chiskop" with pride, charging R5 to charity for every passing slap on my shaven pate. And I'd gladly do it again. Thanks Desiree, the ETV Sunrise make-up lady who had never shaved a head in her life.

And thank you future president Sindy Mabe for removing the hair from my eyes during the interview. Thanks Neo Monyetsane and Pholoho Selebano for making me live up to my promise.

Sooner or later, the missus will forgive me. Until then, I will be saving on the shampoo and hair-drier.
And if we get to the final on February 10 and lose to the Ivory Coast, Zambia, Ghana or Nigeria, I'll happily do it all again.

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