Tale of bad decisions

2015-01-31 00:00

Bafana Bafana flirted with South African football fans throughout their brief stay at Afcon 2015. After taking the lead in all three of their matches, Bafana could not hold on in any of them and finished bottom of group C with a single point to show for their efforts. Here's a look at how the Bafana squad — including coach Shakes Mashaba — performed at the tournament. All ratings are out of 10.

STRIKERS

TOKELO RANTIE – 4

It is such a shame, because Rantie is such a big player for Bafana. But that penalty miss will haunt him, and us, for years to come. Had it gone in, Bafana might still be at the tournament. But Rantie was poor in all aspects. Pace aplenty, but no final touch as chance after chance came his way without any happy ending.

BERNARD PARKER – 5

Not given much time to make an impact with two appearances off the bench, but did look a tad off the pace both times.

BONGANI NDULULA – 5

Used as a target man against Senegal and did all he could in the circumstances. Often isolated, he made himself a physical threat and it was his aerial presence that allowed Masango to give SA the lead against Ghana.

COACH

SHAKES MASHABA – 5

Mashaba was undefeated in his second stint as Bafana coach before the tournament, having cruised through qualifying at the expense of defending champions Nigeria. But something happened at Afcon that turned him into an erratic, over-confident leader — unlike anything we had seen from him before the tournament. His decision to play a different goalkeeper in each match backfired, and Darren Keet should surely have been given the gloves for the tournament despite his poor showing against Algeria. Mashaba’s substitutions were also questionable, bringing on more defensive-minded players despite his side chasing the game against Ghana. Mashaba is still the man to take the team forward, but he needs to show the calmness and certainty he did for his first 10 games in charge. The positive is that Mashaba has assembled a group of young players with a bright future, and that was his mandate.

GOALKEEPERS

DARREN KEET – 4

Keet had a howler in the tournament opener against Algeria. Certainly at fault for the third goal, he might also hold his hand up for the second goal after being beaten at his near post. He also, uncharacteristically, looked all at sea in the air. It was enough to cost him his place for the rest of the tournament — a decision that would prove to be the incorrect one in hindsight.

JACKSON MABOKGWANE – 5

A complete rookie at international level, ­Mabokgwane was thrown into the deep end against Senegal and can boast being the keeper that featured in the only game Bafana didn’t lose. He looked shaky throughout the match, as one would expect, but just about held his own when called upon. He would also lose his place for the final group game.

BRILLIANT KHUZWAYO – 5

Given the gloves for the Ghana match, Khuzwayo put in the best display of Bafana’s three keepers. He also started shakily, but grew as the match went on and began dominating the aerial threats. He was criticised for being in two minds for Ghana’s winner, but Khuzwayo had done enough by that stage to suggest he won the keeper race.

DEFENDERS

ANELE NGCONGCA – 6

The experience of the right-back shone throughout the tournament. Always a threat going forward, Ngcongca is responsible enough to never abandon his defensive duties. He had to move into the centre-back position against Algeria after Rivaldo Coetzee was stretchered off, and handled himself well there despite Bafana shipping three goals.

THABO MATLABA – 4

It was a horrible showing from Matlaba throughout the campaign. Always keen to get forward, the Orlando Pirates man was wasteful with the ball – trying shots from ridiculous ranges – and was also found wanting defensively on too many occasions.

THULANI HLATSHWAYO – 5

A tournament to forget for the makeshift centre-back. An own goal against Algeria was followed by a concussion early against Senegal that would see him ruled out of the Ghana match too.

RIVALDO COETZEE – 6

Coetzee was stretchered off in the first half against Algeria, and subsequently missed the Senegal game. He would return against Ghana and, though he struggled with the aerial threats at times, looked comfortable at the highest level. He is set to be a major player for Bafana moving forward.

ERICK MATHOHO – 6

Missed the first game through suspension and his leadership was an asset to Bafana in their final two matches as Mathoho sought to command the back four. He did so, but was not helped by what was going on around and behind him.

AYANDA GCABA – 6

A late addition to the squad, Gcaba would get an hour under the belt against Senegal after he replaced the injured Hlatshwayo. He slotted straight into centre-back and performed admirably.

SIYABONGA NHLAPO – 5

Also got about an hour of game time after he replaced Coetzee against Algeria. He played at right-back, and was criticised for being out of position for Algeria’s second goal.

MIDFIELDERS

DEAN FURMAN – 5

Anybody wondering why Furman is not playing at a higher level in England got their answer at Afcon. The central midfilder scored 10 out of 10 for effort, but he was largely inconspicuous throughout. He lacked a yard of pace and was shown up by his stronger, fitter and quicker opposition. Almost scored against Algeria with a shot that rattled the crossbar.

ANDILE JALI – 5

The other half of Bafana’s engine room was inconsistent. Effective against Algeria, Jali then had one of his worst games in a Bafana shirt in the draw against Senegal. Against Ghana he supplied the ball that would lead to Masango’s volley, but in the second half Bafana simply never had any possession and the central midfielder was nowhere to be seen.

OUPA MANYISA – 7

Quiet but solid against Algeria, Manyisa then had a great game against Senegal that saw him net the first goal of his international ­career. Injury ruled him out of the Senegal clash, but Manyisa is one of a select group of players who can leave Equatorial Guinea with their heads held high.

THUSO PHALA – 6

A goal scorer against Algeria, Phala ran his socks off down the right flank. His final product was sometimes a little disappointing, but the SuperSport United man was getting into some good positions.

SIBUSISO VILAKAZI – 7

Probably Bafana’s player of the tournament. Inexplicably left out of the Ghana clash, Vilakazi had shown the skill, touch and pace that has been the backbone of Bafana’s impressive short passing game. In the first two matches when there was good attacking movement from Bafana, Vilakazi was at the heart of it.

MANDLA MASANGO – 7

Finally got a start against Ghana, and boy how he made the most of it. His volley will go down as one of the most spectacular strikes at the tournament. He battled to make an impact after that, but he had given Bafana the lifeline they needed.

RENEILWE LETSHOLONYANE – 6

Suspended against Algeria, Yeye was used twice off the bench against Senegal and Ghana. His performance against Senegal, in particular, stood out — his positioning and accurate passing causing problems.

Bafana’s results at Afcon were:

SA 1 – 3 Algeria

SA 1 – 1 Senegal

SA 1 – 2 Ghana

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