An­other chance for Bafana

Cape Times - - OPINION -

TAL­ENT in South African foot­ball has never been in dis­pute. Un­for­tu­nately, ar­ro­gance and com­pla­cency have long been at the root of the down­fall of Bafana Bafana.

Trace the re­cent his­tory of the na­tional foot­ball squad and it re­veals a litany of ex­am­ples of the so-called “chok­ing” syn­drome. They get to within an inch of qual­i­fy­ing for a ma­jor event, only to bun­gle things.

Over the next few days, Bafana face a sim­i­lar sce­nario when they head into back-to-back 2019 Africa Cup of Na­tions (Afcon) qual­i­fiers against Sey­chelles: at the FNB Sta­dium in Joburg to­mor­row and at the Stade Li­nite in Vic­to­ria, Sey­chelles on Tues­day.

Vic­tory in the two fix­tures will vir­tu­ally as­sure Bafana qual­ify for the con­ti­nen­tal show­piece to be hosted by Cameroon next year.

Sey­chelles should be a stroll in the park. But we’ve been here be­fore, and we know what hap­pens when com­pla­cency and over­con­fi­dence de­rail Bafana’s am­bi­tions.

Need we be re­minded of the part-timers of Cape Verde who de­stroyed Bafana’s hopes of qual­i­fy­ing for the World Cup in Rus­sia? Against Sey­chelles, they are con­fronted by yet more part-timers, in­clud­ing a goal­keeper who is a pas­try chef. As tasty as that may seem, the job still has to be done – and head coach Stu­art Bax­ter is fully aware of the chal­lenge.

Through­out re­cent in­ter­views, Bax­ter has stressed the need for fo­cus and to elim­i­nate anx­i­ety or com­pla­cency. More im­por­tantly, he wants his team to re­spect the op­po­si­tion.

Bafana have not qual­i­fied for Afcon since the 2015 tour­na­ment – here is a golden op­por­tu­nity to be counted among the top African na­tions again. To pro­vide the squad with the ben­e­fit of knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence, Bax­ter has called up former stars Shaun Bartlett and Aaron Mokoena to be part of the tech­ni­cal staff. It’s a good move. So come on, Bafana, do us proud.

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