Bafana sucks, says star

Mn­gomeni says cre­ativ­ity is sti­fled

Sunday World - - Front Page - By Xo­lile Mt­s­hazo mt­s­ha­[email protected]­day­

For­mer Bafana Bafana and Or­lando Pi­rates pro­lific mid­fielder Thabo Mn­gomeni has lashed out at the way the na­tional team is play­ing un­der coach Stu­art Bax­ter.

On the eve of the all-im­por­tant, must-win Africa Cup of Na­tions (Af­con) qual­i­fier against foes Nige­ria at FNB Sta­dium on Satur­day, Mn­gomeni did not spare the English coach from crit­i­cism.

“In the matches I’ve seen with Bafana be­ing coached by Bax­ter I have been left con­fused,” said the le­gendary Mn­gomeni, who won Best Goal of the Year at the Con­fed­er­a­tion of African Foot­ball (CAF) awards in 2001.

It was his un­for­get­table bi­cy­cle-kick goal he scored in Bafana’s 2-1 win over Congo in an Af­con qual­i­fier in 2000 that gave him the edge. Those were the days.

The for­mer Pi­rates skip­per, who will be re­mem­bered for his dread­locks, telling passes and spec­tac­u­lar goals, did not mince his words.

“To me it looks like there is lack of plan­ning. We’re chop­ping and chang­ing the team for ev­ery game we play. As far as I can en­vi­sion Bax­ter doesn’t have a Start­ing XI of reg­u­lars. The team is di­rec­tion­less.

“That’s the very rea­son sup­port­ers are no longer at­tend­ing games; they are dis­grun­tled with the way things are go­ing.

“We don’t know who will be play­ing and who will not. I don’t have an idea what type of foot­ball Bafana are play­ing at the mo­ment. We don’t have a style,” Mn­gomeni said.

“We keep on say­ing we are on a learn­ing curve. Must we keep on learn­ing from ev­ery coach at the helm of Bafana? When will we pass?

“We’ve been taught dif­fer­ent styles by dif­fer­ent coaches over the years, it’s not funny.”

Mn­gomeni also said coaches sti­fled SA’s cre­ativ­ity with the ball.

“When Ney­mar and them ex­press them­selves and be­come cre­ative with the ball, they are praised as foot­ball stars. But when our play­ers do the same we are told we are play­ing with­out a pur­pose. No doubt, we have tal­ented play­ers in this coun­try who can equally match or even sur­pass many other na­tions.

“They have the ca­pa­bil­ity to take us to the higher level, but there is no plan­ning.”

Mn­gomeni will be re­mem­bered for em­bar­rass­ingly fail­ing to catch gal­lop­ing Nige­rian winger Ti­jani Ba­bangida in SA’s Af­con qual­i­fier in 2000. Bafana lost 2-0, but went on to se­cure a berth in the fi­nal tour­na­ment.

/ Ziyaad Dou­glas/Gallo Im­ages

For­mer Bafana Bafana mid­fielder Thabo Mn­gomeni says he has no idea what type of foot­ball Bafana are play­ing at the mo­ment

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