May 2016 bring better results for Bafana
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.
LUKEWARM YEAR Shakes Mashaba has had mixed results with his squad in 2015