Ought to Bafana placed on equally shaky shows in opposition to Ghana and Sudan, they threat being closely punished.
First printed in Every day Maverick 168.
Bafana Bafana got here away with the six factors they have been aiming for of their two ties in opposition to São Tomé as they strengthened their bid to qualify for the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).
Bafana Bafana ended the two-week Fifa worldwide break having accomplished the mission that they had set for themselves: to financial institution six factors from their two matches in opposition to São Tomé of their Afcon qualification group.
Within the build-up to the 2 fixtures, Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki stated that six factors in opposition to the crew sitting on the backside of Group C and winless was crucial so as to bolster their qualification possibilities.
The whole lot went in line with plan, and Ntseki’s males ensured that São Tomé remained rooted to the underside of the desk and pointless after 4 video games.
What the South Africans didn’t depend on, nonetheless, was that third-placed Sudan would decide up three factors in opposition to group leaders Ghana. The Black Stars had crushed the Sudanese 2-Zero in Cape Coast, Ghana, within the first leg. Within the return leg the Falcons of Jediane shocked them with a 1-Zero victory on the Al Hilal stadium in Omdurman. The victory signifies that with two rounds of qualifying left, and scheduled to happen in March 2021, issues are evenly poised within the group.
Ghana nonetheless sit on the summit, stage on 9 factors with Bafana Bafana, however with a touch superior objective distinction. Sudan, after their shock victory over the Black Stars, are an additional three factors away from the duo.
The optimistic outcome for Sudan may have Bafana sweating barely, particularly contemplating that their last two fixtures will likely be a house sport in opposition to Ghana, earlier than they spherical off their qualification journey in opposition to Sudan away from residence.
Nonetheless, coming off this profitable window in opposition to São Tomé, Ntseki continues to be assured that his crew will do sufficient to qualify for Cameroon 2022. The coach has additionally hinted that they’re aiming to complete as group winners. So, the arrogance that they’ll do the job is definitely there.
What will likely be of concern going ahead although is how they carried out in opposition to São Tomé, regardless of their two victories.
Bafana netted six targets over the 2 video games, profitable 2-Zero and Four-2 respectively. Despite these seemingly convincing victory margins on paper, on the sector issues have been removed from easy crusing for the 1996 African champions. As they duelled it out over the 2 legs, Bafana seemed cagey and considerably nervous, with the islanders making the South Africans sweat earlier than they secured their victories.
Ought to Bafana placed on equally shaky shows in opposition to Ghana and Sudan, they threat being closely punished. However Ntseki is adamant they’ll rectify the errors made within the two video games in opposition to São Tomé.
“We had our backs to the wall … however stored religion and targets ultimately got here. We’re absolutely conscious of the errors we made conceding the targets. Subsequent yr in March we are going to work at it,” stated Ntseki after the second sport.
“That’s the stress which we managed to take care of from the tactical facet of it and the gamers’ facet of it. However the stress shouldn’t be over but as a result of we nonetheless must play Sudan and Ghana.”
Even when they do qualify for Afcon, with their present type it’s troublesome to think about them being one of many nations legitimately contending for the crown of African kings come 2022.
It’s much more troublesome seeing them being one of many nations representing the continent on the Fifa World Cup in Qatar. They’ve didn’t qualify for the final two editions of the worldwide spectacle, with their final look courting again to 2010 when it was hosted right here in South Africa.
Ntseki, with stress mounting round him and his imaginative and prescient for the crew from supporters, will likely be hoping to interrupt that World Cup qualification hoodoo.
From Could 2021 Bafana will duke it out with Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Ghana as soon as extra, this for the only spot within the second spherical of qualification for African nations.
For now, although, the coach and his gamers will step away from the nationwide crew happy after blocking out the naysayers and getting the job at hand completed. DM168
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