Bafana regain flavour
Football hierarchy excited by new-look South Africa’s future
AFTER a convincing victory over recent Africa Cup of Nations participants Guinea Bissau, the return of several players from the cold, and a youngster scoring on debut Bafana Bafana are again a popular football flavour.
Whereas club loyalties often trumped the national team interests, the manner of the weekend’s 3-1 win over Guinea Bissau in Durban has the football hierarchy bubbling with excitement over South Africa’s prospects of qualifying for continental and global events.
Safa president Danny Jordaan and caretaker coach Owen da Gama both gushed about the future after the new-look side dismantled the West Africans with goals from returning player Kermit Erasmus, debut-ant Percy Tau and Andile Jali.
Erasmus and midfielder Kamohelo Mokotjo returned to the national fold after lengthy absences following fall-outs with former coach Ephraim Mashaba.
Mokotjo even relinquished his citizenship in favour of Dutch nationality, but with government intervention he resumed South African citizenship in time to feature in Saturday’s friendly at Moses Mabhida Stadium.
“I’m very happy, particularly in the midfield, where we started off with Kamohelo. He gave an incredible performance in the midfield. I’m happy that he’s back. It was a revelation to see Kamohelo on the park with his South African passport,” said Safa president Danny Jordaan yesterday.
“And in the end we had Percy Tau. What a start to an international career. His first tackle earned him a yellow card. I think he was quite shocked. Then his first touch – it was an incredible goal he scored. So his first two touches was one of a shock and a celebration. But he’s a player who will bring an additional dimension to the team. Once the midfield is settled I think we’ll have a very good team.”
The Guinea Bissau match and tomorrow’s friendly outing against Angola in East London were planned as part of preparation for the resumption of the World Cup qualifiers away to Cape Verde in September, Jordaan explained.
“We wanted to play Guinea Bissau because more or less it is the kind of football Cape Verde play. We’re looking for those six points to qualify for the World Cup. Overall we are very happy. And now we will go to play Angola in East London. Again similar style of play, similar players, they all come from Portugal . They play in the second division in Portugal, all of them, so it’s very good preparation for the World Cup qualifier against Cape Verde.”
Soon after the Angola clash a new coach will be revealed. Jordaan was optimistic that the new man would fit into the current technical structure where the various age group national team coaches work together.
“We saw a good crop of very young players, very talented, and there’s a good future for Bafana Bafana. As a principle we want to ensure continuity, we want the coaches to work together. The result of that you saw our under-20 players on the bench,” he said in reference to the likes of striker Luther Singh who is set to get his first senior cap tomorrow.
Amidst the positive vibe there lingers an uncertainty over world governing body Fifa’s investigation into South Africa’s 2-1 World Cup qualifier win over Senegal in November for alleged match-fixing by the referee. However Jordaan was unperturbed. “We don’t appoint referees. That was Fifa’s appointment. We can only play under the rules and direction of the referee appointed by FIFA so there’s nothing we can do.
“Let’s deal with the reality. We have four points. And we need another six to take us one step closer to Russia 2018.”Da Gama was also confident that whoever took charge would find a squad well placed to qualify for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2018 World Cup.
“I’m so confident in the players here, that no ways will South Africa not qualify for the Afcon and the World Cup. That confidence has got to come from us as the staff and we hope from the nation.
”The Afcon qualifiers kick off with a match away Nigeria in June. Before that the Championship of African Nations qualifiers start late next month. However for that programme, as well as the Cosafa tournament, Jordaan said they planned to use another squad altogether, so that this group could remain fresh and focused on the major events.