Are Bafana on the way up?

2014-09-11 10:17

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If Shakes Mashaba was writing an exam, he would have scored 100% against Sudan and 50% against Nigeria. This would mean 150 out of 200, which translates to a 75% pass mark.

Not bad, as any student or parent would agree.

Mashaba is starting from scratch with a team that hit rock-bottom.

Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba is starting from scratch with a team that hit rock-bottom.

As the saying goes, once you hit that position, there is no other way except up.

So, are Bafana on the way up?

The brave would say yes, while the cautious would say let’s play a wait and see game.

The performances – in the 3-0 win against Sudan and last night’s goalless draw against Nigeria – will show that Bafana Bafana played well, albeit in patches.

In the first match in Khartoum, they looked disjointed in the first half. While one could see what they were trying to do, they seemed to not be able to translate Mashaba’s instructions into action.

There were wide gaps in the midfield because the midfielders seemed to be playing quite far from the strike force.

All this changed in the second half following the introduction of Sibusiso Vilakazi, Oupa Manyisa and Themba Zwane.

Explaining his substitutions, Mashaba said he noticed that his team needed ball players who would carve openings for the forwards to get behind the opposition’s defence.

It paid dividends and the score line – with all goals coming in the second half – speaks for itself.

Inconsistency crept in again against Nigeria last night. To use an old cliché, Bafana performed like a house on fire in the first half but played in patches in the second stanza.

Given the two clear-cut scoring chances Tokelo Rantie wasted against The Super Eagles in Cape Town plus the one against Sudan when he shot wide after the goalkeeper had dropped the ball on his feet, Mashaba has two immediate aspects of his team to attend to.

Bafana's Tokelo Rantie on the ball during the Afcon qualifier against Nigeria at the Cape Town Stadium. Picture: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images

One is inconsistency. He should instil in his team that a game of football is played over 90 minutes and they should learn to keep the momentum throughout and not let their guard down.

The second is scoring goals. The players must learn to take their chances and convert even half chances.

Last night there was just too much dilly-dallying on the ball that saw scoring chances get away.

If Mashaba can rectify these, Bafana will be on one way only. And that is up!

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