Veteran player says they were too predictable
MACBETH Sibaya has deplored Bafana Bafana’s “lack of character” after they lost to Uruguay leaving them all but out of the World Cup.
Sibaya was again an unused substitute during Wednesday’s 3-0 defeat to the South Americans, and yesterday the hardtackling midfielder observed his teammates were too meek in their biggest home loss.
“Uruguay were provocative and dirty, and we didn’t have the character to fight back,” Sibaya said.
“It was an awkward game for us because it looked like we didn’t know what to expect. With Mexico, we knew that they would attack with three strikers and that their fullbacks push forward.”
The Rubin Kazan midfielder also questioned the motive of deploying the same tactics and strategy for Bafana’s opening match against Mexico which ended in a draw, and Uruguay.
Coach Carlos Parreira made just a single change to his lineup, bringing on Tsepo Masilela but crucially leaving Katlego Mphela on his own up at the front.
“These days teams study the opposition. And you can’t use the same style for different teams. We needed to do a dirty job against Uruguay because they are different to Mexico.
“We should have shown more character and fighting spirit, but we didn’t because we went with the same strategy we used against Mexico.”
Sibaya’s honest assessment is unlikely to please Parreira, but the Brazilian has to turn to the seasoned midfielder for the final Group A match against France in Bloemfontein because his regular anchorman Kagisho Dikgacoi is suspended.
Sibaya has yet to get action in this World Cup, even though he’s one of Bafana’s most experienced players, having played every minute of South Africa’s three matches at the 2002 finals in Asia, where Bafana finished with four points.
If they do not beat France on Tuesday (Free State Stadium, 4pm), they will finish bottom of Group A, meaning they’ll have their worst ever World Cup.
On their debut in 1998, Bafana also finished third behind France and Denmark, even though they didn’t win a match.
Sibaya admitted Mexico’s win over France on Thursday had left Bafana with a mountain to climb if they are to qualify for the next round, but expressed optimism that the team can finish on a high.
“Now it’s like climbing Mount Everest,” the for mer Jomo Cosmos man conceded.
“We’ll do our best and maybe a miracle can happen.” Bafana must beat France convincingly and hope that Mexico also win by more than two goals over Uruguay on the same day.
Sibaya is unaware whether he’ll start, but recently he’s been behind Dikgacoi and Thanduyise Khuboni in Parreira’s perking order.
“I haven’t been told I’ ll start…we’ll see during the course of the weekend who will be in the starting XI. But at this stage you have to be prepared for anything,” he said.
Certain to start is goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs, following Itumeleng Khune’s red card against Uruguay.
“That game is gone and we have to believe that anything can happen on the final day,” Josephs said.
Sibaya, meanwhile, dismissed criticism of African teams at this World Cup, saying just because the tournament was here for the first time didn’t give sides from the continent an edge over others.
“The level of competition is too high,” he said. “You can’t say Africa had a chance just because we are hosting. Nobody came here with an advantage. Spain lost to Switzerland the other day and that shows how difficult the World Cup is.”
Bafana will hold two more closed training sessions today and tomorrow before leaving for Bloemfontein.