Bafana’s knockout stage dream in the balance

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South Africa’s chances of qualifying for the knockout stages have been dealt yet another blow following their 1-all draw against Senegal on Friday. But Bafana Bafana will rue not being consistent with interchanging of passes and disguise moves to break the Senegalese defence when they played to a 1-all draw against The Lions of Teranga.

At any given moment, when Bafana Bafana exchanged passes they look to have the Senegalese defences at sixes and sevens and it is no surprise the two goals the team has scored at the tournament so far come from such moves.

The draw has further pinned Bafana’s back against the wall and minimised their chances of advancing to the knockout of stages even further.

With the other three teams in Group C on three points apiece, Bafana will have to beat Ghana and hope Senegal wins their clash against Algeria on Tuesday. Any other result will most certainly see Shakes Mashaba’s men pack their bags and return home.
The game got off to a low key-start with both team sussing out each other.

South Africa’s first real chance came on the 17th minute when Sibusiso Vilakazi exchanged some promising passes with Thuso Phala, before the latter’s shot was blocked.

Just as in the first game when Rivaldo Coetzee had to be replaced in the first half, Shakes Mashaba once again had to reshuffle his defence after Thulani Hlatswayo was stretchered off owing to a knock he had picked up.

Ayanda Gcaba, who joined the later in the camp to replace the injured Patrick Phungwayo, came on to partner with Mulomowandau Mathoho in the centre of defence.

“I think we are a team that created the most chances and if we were scoring we could be the most scoring team in the tournament.”

Thabo Matlaba had an attempt at goal just before halftime, but his snap shot went just wide.

Despite showing notable collective defence commitment for much of the first half, Bafana’s defensive shortcomings were exposed when Diop was left to head unchallenged in the box. Fortunately for Bafana, the powerful header was off target.

South Africa got the second to a great start when Oupa Manyisa, following a beautiful exchange of passes, scored his first goal of the tournament.

Twelve minutes later, Mashaba jumped off his seat when Senegal seemed to have equalised, but his frustrations were calmed down the goal was disallowed for an offside. But it was only two minutes later when Mbodji, unchallenged in the box, powered in a shot that just sailed over Jackson Mabokgwane into the back of the net.

In search of a crucial goal Mashaba brought on Bernard Parker and Reneilwe Letsholonyane for Phala and Manyisa, respectively. However, the changes were still not good enough break the resolute Senegalese defence.

At the post-match press briefing, Mashaba lamented missed chances.

“I think we are a team that created the most chances and if we were scoring we could be the most scoring team in the tournament.”

It is definitely not yet over for Bafana Bafana, but the match against Ghana will certainly be a serious test of character.

– By Sipho Kekana