JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, January 22 – As South Africa coach Gordon Igesund seeks to reinvigorate his team after a dismal Africa Cup of Nations curtain-raiser, he has received an offer of help from an unlikely source — a herbalist.
Reuben Matewu, from the Eastern Cape province, is confident he can come to the rescue of Bafana Bafana (The Boys) after Saturday’s lacklustre goalless draw against Cape Verde in Soweto.
That has left the 2013 hosts facing a stiff task to extricate themselves from Group A with matches against Angola and former champions Morocco coming up.
“I can help Bafana Bafana for free if they want and I will do that for the first three matches,” Matewu told a regional radio station, The Star newspaper reported Monday.
“I’m not like those people who use bad muti (traditional medicine), I will only use herbs which are easily available here in South Africa.”
Matewu says he will start charging for his services only “when” South Africa qualify for the knockout stages.
“Thereafter, I will charge them as they would have started winning,” he explained confidently.
His offer is being taken seriously by misfiring South Africa.
“Let the man speak to me and we’ll see what we can do after that,” Mwelo Nonkonyana, vice-president of the South African Football Association (Safa), told The Star.
“We always welcome whatever help we can get to ensure Bafana Bafana do well,” he added.
Matewu’s approach is in welcome contrast to another healer’s threat to use his expertise to prevent the national side from winning.
Sibonelo Madela, a traditional healer from Ulundi in kwaZulu-Natal province, claims he is owed 90,000 rand ($10,128/7,613 euros) by Safa for helping the team during the 2010 World Cup.
According to the paper, Madela says the team’s 2-1 win first round win over France was down to him.
South Africa face Angola Wednesday and Morocco Sunday, both games being played in Durban.
With Saturday’s game between Angola and Morocco also ending goalless, there is all to play for in Group A with the first two teams progressing to the quarter-finals.