Santana is ‘building’ for 2010

2008-09-10 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — Bafana Bafana coach Joel Santana was on the defensive, trying to justify his poor record since he took charge of the national side in June, after his second-string Bafana fired blanks and were beaten 1-0 by Guinea in a friendly played at the Super Stadium on Tuesday night.

Under Santana, Bafana have played seven competitive and friendly matches. He has won one (4-1) against the no name brand players of Equatorial Guinea in June and he has lost four — the last two at home.

When asked to defend his record that is getting worse, Santana reverted back to the tried and trusted explanation. He said: “I am building a squad to play at the 2010 World Cup finals. I am still looking for players. The rebuilding of Bafana started two years ago and I am continuing with that and will build a side to compete at the 2010 World Cup finals”.

Bafana were beaten 1-0 by Nigeria in a must win 2010 African Nations Cup qualifier in Port Elizabeth last Saturday and followed that up with a poor effort going down to Guinea, who took the game for pocket money after drawing their Afcon qualifier against Zimbabwe on Sunday.

The loss to Nigeria ended Bafana’s hopes of playing in the 2010 Afcon finals in Angola.

Santana said his side played well against Guinea and “played nice football.” That brought howls of laughter from disbelieving members of the soccer media at the post-match conference.

Even his captain on the night, veteran Sibusiso Zuma, had the grace to say: “I am not going to say we played well or it was a good match. But we tried our best.”

When Santana was asked to explain his philosophy, he said through a fluent interpreter: “My philosophy is to know how to pass the ball; be able to change direction, be able to cross the ball and to finish [score goals].”

But one reporter hit the nail on the head when he labelled his philosophy “trial and error”.

Santana also said football is about scoring goals and not conceding any.

The players are probably as confused as the media. At least the media have somebody to try and translate Santana’s musings at post match briefings — the players do not have that luxury. How Santana gets his message across is difficult to understand, as he has little command of English.

Again Bafana failed to score against Guinea, despite having enough chances to. But it has been another disappointing 90 minutes, which left the roughly 2 000 fans wondering why they bothered to come and watch.

“It is a big problem that crept in four games ago. I am going to have to find a solution, but it is not easy finding a solution,” said Santana.

He did admit that Bafana have to improve, especially in the goal scoring department and he would ensure that would happen.

He said boldly: “We have to improve and will play more friendly matches to help us. We need solutions, but these cannot be found in one night.”

There were two positives to come out of Tuesday’s 1-0 loss to a Guinea side that just went through the motions. One was the form of debutant winger Daine Klate, as well as a man of the match performance from giant central defender Matthew Booth.

Ironically, the two who were the best players on the night, each had a goal disallowed for offside.

Russia-based Booth was outstanding in marshalling his defence. Klate showed he is ready to take on a bigger role at international level. He ripped into the Guinea defence and put his hand up for more action. Hopefully Santana was watching and will keep this talented SuperSport United star in his squad, plus retain the commanding presence of Booth for next month’s meaningless final Afcon qualifier away to Equatorial Guinea.

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