BAFANA ARE VICTORIOUS
Coach would like to keep the structure of the team together and make only a few changes ahead of Tuesday’s Angola friendly
There will be no wholesale changes when Bafana Bafana play Angola in a friendly match in East London on Tuesday. This was revealed by stand-in coach Owen da Gama at yesterday’s Bafana vs Guinea-Bissau post-match press conference. The coach said he would like to keep the structure of the team together and make only a few changes as he was happy with how the players carried themselves.
“I was happy with the performance and how the players expressed themselves and enjoying themselves out there. It was a good exercise for us and we got what we wanted. This should be a nice selection headache for the new coach going forward because there is still a lot of quality players out there,” said Da Gama.
But he said he would give some of the players who did not get a chance against Guinea-Bissau some time out against Angola.
“We learnt our lesson from our [previous] friendly game against Mozambique a while ago when we made 11 changes and we were out of sorts in the second half of that game. So we will make changes where necessary, but the idea is to give as many players as possible a chance to play.”
Da Gama also raved about Kamohelo Mokotjo’s distribution of the ball, saying the FC Twente midfielder gave the team something they have been missing.
If yesterday’s display is anything to go by, then the future looks bright for South African football. But it is too early to pass judgement as there is a long, long way to go, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Yesterday’s victory took Bafana to 11 games unbeaten.
If the new coach was watching from the stands or somewhere (word yesterday was that Frenchman Hervé Renard would be revealed as the new man), he would have taken a few notes on the proceedings here. Two areas which Bafana will need to work on going forward is how they deal with crosses and set pieces and also upfront. They looked vulnerable at the back when Guinea attacked from the flanks – even their goal came from one those crosses.
Bafana also looked flat in front of goals as they were let down by indecisiveness and poor decision making. They did not trouble the visiting goalkeeper Papa Masse in the first half until they were awarded a penalty in the 35th minute. They need to be ruthless in front of goals, particularly when they are playing teams like Guinea-Bissau, which did not offer too much resistance until late into the game when they caused a few problems.
France-based Keagan Dolly said he was personally excited to see Mokotjo and Kermit Erasmus back in the team.
“Having them in the team and the new bunch of players encourages us as youngsters. We are a vibrant team and enjoy each other’s company,” said the player who captained the SA Under-23 at the Rio Olympics last year.
There were lots of positives from this game and hopefully Bafana learnt a thing or two. However, they should not get carried away as this was just a friendly game.
But overall there were some glimpses of brilliance from the team with some neat interpasses and finding spaces behind the west African side’s defence.
Mokotjo looked too eager to impress following his Dutch citizenship debacle. And impressive he was as he controlled the proceedings from the middle of the park with some accurate passes. He showed South Africans what they missed during his absence, although he tried too much at times.
Bafana were easy to watch as they were enterprising and entertaining.
Young Percy Tau did not disappoint too when he came off the bench and scored on his debut just a few minutes after coming on.
Tau showed his class when he combined with his former Mamelodi Sundowns team-mate Dolly to put Bafana 2-0 ahead.
But Bafana’s fragilities at the back were exposed when substitute Aldair Balde pulled one back after the South Africans failed to deal with Tony Silva’s cross. But Bafana had the last laugh when Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe awarded them their second penalty in the dying minutes and Andile Jali converted from the spot.
Except for the returning Mokotjo and Erasmus, caretaker coach Owen Da Gama stuck with the tried and tested players as he did not want to overhaul the team. But there was no need for a complete overhaul as the team had gone 11 games without a loss.
RUSH OF BLOOD A fan wearing a Kaizer Chiefs shirt could not contain himself and rushed on to the field to Bafana Bafana number one goalkeeper Itumaleng Khune, kneeling in front of him before embracing him with a bear hug at the Moses Mabhida Stadium yesterday