‘Not enough spirit’

2010-06-19 00:00

BAFANA Bafana midfielder MacBeth Sibaya has said the team did not show enough character and fighting spirit in a 3-0 World Cup Group A defeat against a robust Uruguay at Loftus on Wednesday.

The Uruguay loss, and a 2-0 win for Mexico against France in Polokwane, have effective ended Bafana’s chances of reaching the second round.

To reach the last-16 the South Africans will need to beat ninth-ranked France by anything up to six goals, depending on the result between Mexico and Uruguay in Rustenburg.

Sibaya, likely to come into the starting line-up for the suspended Kagisho Dikgacoi, was asked how Bafana managed to draw 1-1 in the opening match of the World Cup with the best team in Group A, Mexico, then fall apart so dramatically against Uruguay.

“Against Uruguay, it was a very awkward game because you didn’t really know what to expect. Against Mexico, their formation is quite clear, you know their players,” the straight-talking midfielder said.

“Mexico have three attacking forwards who are very pacy. Most of them are very difficult to read because you find that most of the time their wings come inside.

“Uruguay are a very physical team. They can be dirty at times. They can be very provocative. In that particular game you just needed players to have more character to be identified because it’s a very awkward side to play.”

Asked to elaborate, Sibaya hinted that coach Carlos Alberto Parreira could have made changes from to his starting line-up from the team that faced ultra-attacking Mexico, adding more grafters and battlers to fight Uruguay’s’ fire with fire.

“I believe we [the players] could have done more,” Sibaya said. “You cannot relax in this tournament — you have to keep on playing your normal football.

“There are times when you have to make sacrifices, and be able to fight more and be able to do more of a dirty job.

“You come across different teams who play different styles. And they also come prepared for a particular game — they study the opposition.

“I believe that the game against France is going to be a lot different. We really have to show a lot more character and fighting spirit.”

Sibaya said he does not believe in miracles, but added that Bafana will approach the France game trying to do their best, and live in hope.

“Certainly not [I don’t believe in miracle]. It’s the World Cup, it’s a very big event. Everybody is here to give his best. All the teams want to do well.

“Maybe a miracle can happen this time, but we’re just hoping for the best. We’re going to go to Bloemfontein and do our best.

“Even though it seems like climbing Mount Everest we’re going to do whatever is possible.”

The midfielder said he has not been informed yet whether he will replace Dikgacoi.

“I’m sure we’re going to make a decision in the next few days.

“At this level you can never be sure what the starting line-up will be because you have to fit certain criteria that will be used in a particular game.

“We have a very good chance [of beating France]. As long as we can just stay positive,” Sibaya added.

Goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs, who will replace South Africa’s other suspended player, Itumeleng Khune, said the emphasis for the South Africans is to lift their sprits from a devastating defeat, and focus on France.

“I think after the Uruguay game it [the mood] was a bit disappointing,” the Ajax Cape Town goalkeeper said. “Of course we had high hopes. But that game is gone now and we have to look forward to France.

“That’s a big game for us. In football anything can happen — we have to go out there and give it our best shot and hope things go in our favour.”

Bafana will hope for either Mexico or Uruguay to win by an unusually high margin — as much as 5-0 or 6-0 — which would leave the South Africans having to beat France by only a goal or two.

While France have been in abysmal form, and are set to join South Africa as Group A’s first-round leavers, Bafana will struggle to lift themselves from their defeat against Uruguay to beat a very strong team on paper.

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