Shakes hasn’t lost hope Bafana can come back

2015-01-21 00:00

SOUTH African football fans would have still been in a state of shock yesterday after witnessing Bafana Bafana self-implode against Algeria in their Afcon 2015 opener on Monday night.

A 1-0 lead looked set to become a 2-0 lead as Tokelo Rantie lined up a penalty on 53 minutes, but what followed was nothing short of a nightmare from a South African perspective. A flustered Rantie blasted his spot kick over the bar and then the Bafana defence, including goalkeeper Darren Keet, were all at sea as the northern Africans showed why they are tournament favourites by scoring three times in the space of 16 minutes to cruise home.

All is not lost for Bafana, but it is looking a tall order now for them to progress to the knockout stages. If they lose against Senegal on Friday night and Algeria beat Ghana, then they will be eliminated from the tournament.

Bafana had displayed impressive attacking movement against the Algerians, highlighted by the sequence that led to Thuso Phala’s 53rd minute opener. For most of the match, they looked the better side, creating more chances than their more-fancied opposition, though unable to finish. That is an all too familiar tale in this country, but coach Shakes Mashaba has not lost hope.

“We gave the game away. The best team lost after creating so many scoring opportunities in the first half,” ­Mashaba said yesterday, after tasting defeat for the first time in 11 matches. “We allowed them back into the match and we got punished.”

Mashaba’s message to his players was clear, urging them not to roll over and to fight for their rightful place among the continent’s elite.

“Lift your heads up because it is not over yet, there are still six points to play for,” he said. “We have a mountain to climb but we are still confident that we will do well [against Senegal].”

Bafana captain Dean Furman, who rattled the crossbar with the score at 0-0 in the first half, echoed Mashaba’s sentiments.

“We have to lift our heads and go for a win, and that’s all we need,” he said. “The good thing is that we played some outstanding football out there. We are just very disappointed not to come out with a win.”

Centre back Rivaldo Coetzee, stretchered off in the first half against Algeria, reportedly sat out of yesterday’s training session. His knee injury is thought to be serious enough to keep him out of action for the rest of the tournament. The good news, though, is that first-choice sweeper Erick ­Mathoho is available for Friday after serving his one match suspension.

Friday night’s match will also be played in Mongomo with kickoff once again pencilled in for 9 pm.

GROUP C

P W L D GF GA Pts

Algeria 1 1 0 0 3 1 3

Senegal 1 1 0 0 2 1 3

Ghana 1 0 1 0 1 2 0

SA 1 0 1 0 1 3 0

Friday’s fixtures

SA v Senegal

Ghana v Algeria

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