Bafana Bafana’s schoolboy defending a major concern

Written by on November 23, 2023

Written By: Floyd Nkanyane


Bafana Bafana’s dream of competitively qualifying for a FIFA World Cup since 2001 took a shock reality check on Tuesday afternoon as they succumbed to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of lowly ranked (140) Group C leaders Rwanda at a drenched Huye Stadium.

Hugo Broos’ side headed to the match as favourites, having notched up a historic 2-1 win over Benin at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday. The narrow victory saw Bafana end their long-standing negative record of failing to win an opening group stage match of a FIFA World Cup qualifier since Mbulelo Mabizela scored twice against Cape Verde on the 5 th of June 2004.

However that squad lost their second qualifier 3-0 to the Black Stars of Ghana and in the end, failed to qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Why the history? You may ask. Simple, it’s when they qualified for the 2002 FIFA World Cup in South Korea and Japan (the last team to do so competitively), Bafana started with a win 2-0 away against Zimbabwe and then beat Burkina Faso 1-0 at home. So comparisons were drawn and now with the defeat in Butare, reality is sinking in.

Prior to the game, the Belgian-born mentor was adamant that the pitch was in a dismal condition for a competitive match referring to the previous game between Rwanda and Zimbabwe.

“When I saw the images of the game of Rwanda against Zimbabwe and for the qualifiers for Afcon, I see a very very bad pitch, synthetic pitch,” Broos told Safa media.

“I think it’s time that Caf or Fifa put good rules about traveling and also about the stadiums.

“There is nothing wrong with the synthetic grass or pitch. We had one in Liberia, it was new generation synthetic, nobody complained about it, it was good.” Broos Added.

The coach was spot on. The condition of the pitch was horrendous but so was the defensive play from Bafana, it was appalling. Just 12 minutes into the game we witnessed some schoolboy defending from Sibisi Nkosi accompanied by a “staan & kyk” pose from goalkeeper Ronwen Williams
allowing Innocent Nshuti to give Amavubi the lead while simultaneously earning a yellow card for his topless celebrations.

The Wasps were not done yet, having missed a chance to score just before the opening goal, winger Gilbert Mugisha stung Bafana by adding a second 16 minutes later credit to some sloppy defence from an in-form Khuliso Mudau. It was a lacklustre performance from South Africa as they managed 5 shots at goal and 2 on target against Rwanda, with none of the Called-up Strikers managing a single goal in two games.

So given the performances & lack of goals in the last 6 games Bafana have played, it’s evident they are not ready to win the AFCON in West Africa.
It’s back to the drawing board for Hugo Broos’ men with little time to prepare for the 2024 AFCON tournament in Ivory Coast. Loud concerns are circulating that the team could be overly dependent on Mamelodi Sundowns’ Players that could be suffering from fatigue but the coach isn’t moved by
the comments.

“I will not tell you that it’s because of those [Sundowns] players that we won the game. In the second half after injuries, there were less players of Sundowns and we won the game, so don’t make a story of that [Sundowns players help Bafana win],” Broos said.

“For me, it doesn’t matter if it’s a Sundowns player or Pirates player or even Chippa player but what’s important is that I have a team, so it is not because of them or because of others.”

So what next for Bafana Bafana?

Competitively, the year 2023 has ended in a disappointment with a 2-0 defeat to Rwanda. Missing the chance to top Group C and have a 4-point advantage. Next up is the 2024 AFCON tournament in Côte d’Ivoire with tough fixtures against Mali, Namibia and Tunisia on the cards respectively.

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