Much is expected of the national football and rugby teams today, even though they find themselves facing totally different levels of pressure.
The Springboks will be looking to bounce back from their defeat away to Argentina two week ago – which coach Rassie Erasmus labelled “embarrassing” – when they face the Wallabies in a crucial Rugby Championship Test in Brisbane at noon, while Bafana Bafana host Libya in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at 3pm in Durban, having already won their opening match of their campaign.
The Boks are second in the Rugby Championship standings after a win and a loss against the Pumas, but they know their slim chance of winning the southern hemisphere competition title is hanging by a thread after slipping up against Argentina in Mendoza.
A win against Australia today is non-negotiable if they want to keep those fading hopes alive, even though they don’t have a great record at the venue, winning just once in seven outings at the Suncorp Stadium.
The Wallabies may have lost two from two, but that means very little as the All Blacks are the dominant force in world rugby.
Erasmus made several changes for today’s Test.
It’s no secret that he has yet to find his right combinations, despite being in charge of the national team for six Tests. With little more than a year to go until the World Cup in Japan, let’s hope today will shed some light on who the right people for the right positions are.
For Bafana head coach Stuart Baxter, it’s a different type of pressure. More than a year ago, his side defeated Nigeria 2-0 away from home in Uyo in their qualifying opener. Since that win, their Fifa World Cup qualifying campaign went up in smoke with a string of unfavourable results. So, it’s almost starting from scratch again for Baxter and company.
At Moses Mabhida Stadium, they must beat Libya, surprisingly topping the qualifying group after a whopping 5-1 opening win over the Seychelles.
Bafana are ranked 27 places above Libya and should be too strong for the visitors.
Durban and Brisbane are worlds apart. Let’s hope they can provide the setting for South African wins today.
Springbok and Bafana fans demand nothing less.