With more South African legends sharing their stories as far as the 2010 Fifa World Cup is concerned, former Bafana Bafana defender Matthew Booth says meeting former President Nelson Mandela just before the global showpiece remained his major highlight.
The retired defender also believes it would have been wonderful to see an African team reaching the semi-finals, and explained why they stood behind the Black Stars of Ghana.
Booth also believes the current coach Molefi Ntseki must be supported, adding that Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane’s appointment to succeed Carlos Alberto Parreira was badly timed by the South African Football Association (Safa).
“The highlight for me was meeting Madiba, I think the bus tour in Sandton where we had to meet thousands of people to wish us well was another one,” Booth told Goal.
“Of course Shabba’s [Sihiwe Tshabalala] opening goal is a highlight and I think those three things were my major highlights, they really stood out for me."
Booth also suggested South Africa's struggles at international tournaments relates to the continuity in the squad.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had one squad which has played over a space of eight years together and so, every time we go to a big continental tournament we seem to have a different coach or squad. I think we need to build experience from the U20, U23 level.
“And that gives the players an opportunity for them to go to the Olympics and play in the Junior World Cups. When we keep that squad and try to help them qualify for two World Cups…once you do that then you have an opportunity of progressing.”
Following their failure to progress to the next stage of the tournament, the former Ajax Cape Town defender provided his reasons on why they adopted the West Africans led by Asamoah Gyan whilst sharing his thoughts on ‘Jingles’.
“When we got knocked out, we adopted Ghana and it was a pity they couldn’t make it to the semis, it would have been fantastic for an African team to go to the semis especially during an African World Cup,” he added.
“I think we had three coaches in very quick succession, we had [Joel] Santana, Parreira and then Pitso - for Pitso it was just bad timing.
“Of course, like players you mature as you coach as well and he’s now gained a lot of confidence, success, and experience with Sundowns and I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes back to the national team.
“When he took over from Parreira, I think it was not the right timing.”
On going forward heading to the 2022 tournament in Qatar, the former Bidvest Wits centre-back urged South Africans to rally behind Ntseki’s troops.
“We’ve had a good start in the World Cup qualifiers and we must show confidence and faith in him [Ntseki] and get behind him,” Booth continued.
“There’s a bit of a negative aura around our football at the moment but as fans, we have to change that and rally behind the team and the coach.”