Bafana need to play fearlessly

2015-01-26 00:00

WITH one point from two matches leaving them bottom of group C, Bafana Bafana are still in with a shot at qualifying for the quarter-finals of ­Afcon 2015 in Equatorial Guinea.

Shakes Mashaba’s charges take on Ghana in Mongomo — the venue for their first two matches — tomorrow night knowing that anything other than a win will see them eliminated from the tournament at the first hurdle.

But if Algeria and Senegal draw in their match, which starts at the same time tomorrow night, then Bafana will also be eliminated, regardless of how many goals they beat Ghana by. Even though such a result would put Algeria and Bafana both on four points (should Bafana beat Ghana), the northern Africans will go through irrespective of their goal difference. This is due to Caf’s rule that any teams tied on points at the end of the group stages be separated by their head-to-head record in the tournament. With Algeria beating SA 3-1 last Monday, that would be enough to see them progress at Bafana’s expense.

If Algeria beat Senegal, then they will go through with six points. ­Senegal, though, would finish the group on four points. Bafana would then have to beat Ghana well enough to ensure that their goal difference is superior to that of Senegal as head-to-head is unable to separate the sides following their 1-1 draw on Friday night.

The best outcome for Bafana tomorrow night is a Senegal win over Algeria. That would see the west Africans top the group on seven points and Algeria stranded on three. This would mean that any kind of Bafana win would be enough to see them ­secure second spot in the group and qualification for the quarters.

Of course, the mathematical equations do not count for anything on the field and with both games running simultaneously, it will be difficult for the players to know what is happening in the group until after the final whistle. The maths matters least to Bafana. Their task is simple. Backs against the wall and with nothing to lose, they need to go out fearlessly and look to win the game.

There is a similarity between this situation and the one Bafana found themselves in at the 2010 Fifa World Cup on home soil. With one point after two matches, Bafana needed to beat France in their final game and hope for a miracle in the other match to progress. They lived up to their end of the bargain, but the Uruguay-Mexico result did not go their way.

Winning tomorrow is all that Bafana fans can hope for and the rest is out of our hands.

Both matches start at 8 pm.

Group C

P W L D GF GA Pts

Senegal 2 1 0 1 3 2 4

Ghana 2 1 1 0 2 2 3

Algeria 2 1 1 0 3 2 3

SA 2 0 1 1 2 4 1

Tonight’s fixtures — 8 pm

Senegal v Algeria

Ghana v South Africa

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