Another chance for Bafana
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.