South African sports minister Fikile Mbalula has forbidden the cricket team from becoming "a bunch of losers".
His comments that came during the team's send-off for Australia on Wednesday were described by the country's Times Live website as "he might have said it in jest", but not everyone saw the humour.
My fellow South Africans, Mbaks' talents as an inspirational speaker are now news in India, which is very grateful for his help— Nicholas Dawes (@NicDawes) February 5, 2015
The team received a rousing farewell from fans but the buoyant mood was reportedly dampened by Mbalula's deflating comments.
South Africa, who have found themselves saddled with the chokers tag over the years, are already under immense pressure to win their maiden World Cup title.
"We don't want you in the World Cup to add numbers and just become a bunch of losers," Mbalula was quoted as saying by espncricinfo.com.
"You are not going to be playing with robots, you are playing with people. You are the special ones. You are the chosen ones. It does not mean you are irreplaceable but all of you are capable of doing the duty for us," said the minister.
Mbalula, who is quite active on social media is apparently known as "Mr Razzmatazz" in his country. He has also attracted a fair degree of attention for his "obsession" (as described by poet Ntsiki Mzwai) with American singer Beyonce.
His comments rubbed salt in the wounds of the team by refreshing bitter memories of the 1992 Cup, when they lost due to a controversial rain rule, and in 1999 when they lost from a very strong position.
"Forget about 1992. Forget about what happened in Bangladesh," he said.
"When Allan Donald and Lance Klusener could not get us over the line. To AB (de Villiers) and your bunch of winners: you are not playing against cows. You are not playing against donkeys. Don't undermine any of them. Go and win it for us."
It's not the first time Mbalula has used "bunch of losers".
He dished out the tag to South Africa's football team after they exited early from an African tournament last year.