Vet­eran player says they were too pre­dictable

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - NKARENG MATSHE

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.

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