Bafana Bafana’s fate lies in their own hands

2014-10-19 15:00

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Bafana Bafana will get a chance to redeem themselves after the shameful scenes in October 2011 at Mbombela Stadium, when the players celebrated in the mistaken belief that a goalless draw against Sierra Leone was enough to guarantee them qualification for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations finals.

The players will have one chance to permanently exorcise those memories when they take on Sudan in the penultimate Group A qualifier.

A victory will seal their place in the finals with 11 points.

Bafana beat Sudan 3-0 in the away leg last month.

The last time our senior national team played at Mbombela Stadium, their dance of joy quickly turned into the notorious “dance of shame” when they realised they didn’t qualify for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations through the draw they were able to muster against Sierra Leone.

In that most embarrassing moment, Bafana danced to the right tune for what later turned out to be the wrong reason.

But things might be different this time around for Shakes Mashaba’s men as they enter the Sudan clash at the top of their qualifying group.

In spite of a lacklustre showing in their home leg against Congo-Brazzaville on Wednesday night in Polokwane, the buzz around Bafana is still tangible, and the fans are riding on the hope injected by Mashaba’s approach to management and his coaching style.

The last thing Bafana want is to go to the last game away in Nigeria needing three points to guarantee qualification.

Mashaba remained optimistic after Wednesday’s goalless draw, saying the team would go for six points in the last two games.

However, he lamented the fact that the team could not score goals at home. This is something he has promised to work on.

Although they have not conceded a goal in four matches, Bafana’s home record has not been impressive, and they have failed to score in two home matches against Nigeria and Congo. They have scored five away from home.

“We are not pressing panic buttons as yet because we have our destiny in our hands. We know what to do in our next games in order to qualify, and we will plan accordingly,” said Mashaba.

He said his only challenge was the limited time he had been able to spend with the players.

“There is not much time to work on all the things we need to as we have two or three days to prepare for a game. If we were to concentrate on individual players, we would end up not doing anything constructive with the team. Scoring goals is not only a national team problem because it stars at clubs – but we are confident.”

Any of the four teams in the group still have a chance of making it into the finals, but Bafana are in pole position to take the number one spot – if they win their games (see graphic).

A victory for Bafana against Sudan will restore the nation’s pride and hope of reclaiming the glory, and redeem their image, which Mashaba is trying hard to change.

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