May 2016 bring bet­ter re­sults for Bafana

CityPress - - Sport - TIM­O­THY MOLOBI tim­o­thy.molobi@city­press.co.za

It was a roller coaster year for Bafana Bafana, with more neg­a­tives than pos­i­tives for the se­nior na­tional team. The squad failed to build on last year’s best show­ing in the Africa Cup of Na­tions (Af­con) qual­i­fiers. After fin­ish­ing 2014 on a high, there were great ex­pec­ta­tions from coach Shakes Mashaba, but a dis­as­trous Africa Cup of Na­tions in Equa­to­rial Guinea in Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary was fol­lowed by fur­ther be­low-par per­for­mances. They re­turned from Guinea af­ter the first round, hav­ing lost twice and drawn one game – de­spite tak­ing the lead in all three.

The team was doomed to fail from the out­set af­ter Mashaba omit­ted star player Thu­lani Serero from the team.

In­ex­pe­ri­ence was their down­fall, and they were found want­ing.

Mashaba also ro­tated all three goal­keep­ers in the three games.

Their chance of qual­i­fy­ing for the 2017 Af­con fi­nals in Gabon hangs in the bal­ance. After los­ing 3-1 to min­nows Mau­ri­ta­nia and draw­ing with Gam­bia, they are stuck at the bot­tom of their group.

Many ex­pected Bafana to fight it out with Cameroon for top spot af­ter the 2017 Af­con draw was con­ducted.

Bafana’s next Af­con qual­i­fiers are back-to­back games against group lead­ers Cameroon in March be­fore a trip to Gam­bia in June. They will then host Mau­ri­ta­nia in Septem­ber.

They failed to qual­ify for next year’s African Na­tions Cham­pi­onship fi­nals in Rwanda and also bombed out of the Cosafa Cup.

The na­tional team has made a habit of win­ning friendly matches while los­ing of­fi­cial en­gage­ments.

In a re­cent trip to South Amer­ica, they beat Costa Rica and drew with Hon­duras.

They also reg­is­tered vic­to­ries in friendly matches against Sene­gal, Zam­bia, Mali and Swazi­land.

But they fin­ished the year on a high, beat­ing An­gola in the 2018 World Cup pre­lim­i­nary round to book a place in the fi­nal round of qual­i­fiers.

The two games against An­gola brought some joy to Bafana sup­port­ers, but over­all it was not a good year for Mashaba and his tech­ni­cal team.

They will need to build on the An­gola re­sults go­ing for­ward and re­vive the na­tion’s hopes.

PHOTO: SYD­NEY MAHLANGU / BACK­PAGEPIX

LUKE­WARM YEAR Shakes Mashaba has had mixed re­sults with his squad in 2015

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