A heroes welcome for Bafana
A heroes welcome for Bafana

Posted in News on Jun 13, 2002.

They might have not reached the second round or won the World Cup but Bafana Bafana returned home to a heroes welcome on Friday morning following their first round elimination in Japan/South Korea.

Sport Minister Nqonde Balfour and Gauteng MEC for Sport and recreation Mondli Gungubele were also among the hundreds of supporters who braved the cold Johannesburg weather to welcome their heroes.

"To the boys - welcome home. You made us proud, we love you," a placard said.

Another stated: "Bafana Bafana, you're still Number 1 in the heart of South Africans!"

The crowd shouted "Rhu!" - Lucas Radebe's nickname - when he and the rest of the team greeted fans from a balcony in the arrival hall.

Balfour, coach Jomo Sono, Radebe and the rest of the team then threw flowers onto the crowd thanking them for their support.

Bafana Bafana came close to securing a place in the second round but were knocked out following their 3-2 defeat against Spain and with Paraguay winning their match against Slovenia 3-1 Bafana were eliminated on goal difference.

First round elimination would have not warranted such a reception but it was Bafana Bafana's great performance against European opposition that attracted such attention with state President Thabo Mbeki calling for the nation to give the boys a hero's welcome.

Bafana Bafana, who drew 2-2 against Paraguay then beat Slovenia 1-0 and lost 2-3 to Spain, are expected to join Deputy President Jacob Zuma for breakfast in Pretoria and the Gauteng Province have promised them a big welcome party which will be open to the public.

Bafana will then go the National Assembly in Cape Town next Wednesday before returning to their respective clubs.

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