Bafana ‘needed more goals’

2010-09-06 00:00

A SOLID 2-0 victory over Niger in Nelspruit on Saturday night was a good start to the South Africans’ 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifying campaign, with a paucity of goals given the home team’s overwhelming domination the glaring, and not completely insignificant, blemish.

With a 2-0 lead at the break thanks to clinically taken and beautifully-executed goals by the strike partnership of Katlego Mphela and Bernard Parker, the South Africans would have been looking for a few more in the second half.

Bafana’s work-rate, passing and enterprise could not be faulted for the 90 minutes against a Niger side who looked better than their 145th world ranking, and the hosts poked plenty of holes in the second half but could not round these off with goals.

Given the ominous presence of Egypt in Bafana’s group, and with a qualifying format where group winners qualify, plus hosts Equatorial Guinea and Gabon and the three best group runners-up, the amount of goals South Africa can score against the two weaker teams might become crucial in the final reckoning.

Egypt were to play Sierra Leone in Cairo late last night.

Coach Pitso Mosimane was justifiably pleased with another positive all-round display by his side, following on from their 1-0 friendly victory against World Cup quarter-finalists Ghana. Their form suggests Bafana have not lost the edge gained in training camps in Brazil and Germany that made them competitive at the June tournament.

But Carlos Alberto Parreira’s successor did admit that he would have been more comfortable if more of those second-half chances had found the back of the net.

“I’m happy that we created the chances, but obviously frustrated that we didn’t take those chances,” Mosimane said. “I think the result was not a true reflection of the game because we had so many opportunities.

“It is so funny; sometimes we score the difficult goals — if you look at the good execution by Bernard Parker, but we can’t finish the easy ones. We need to work on it at training. We need some maturity upfront.

“I think my body language showed that I was frustrated. We can be better in front of goal.

“The worry I have is the goal difference by the time we play the last match. Remember, during the World Cup we had enough points but not enough goals; that’s what I was thinking about when we were missing the chances.”

But Mosimane was pleased to get off to a winning start in what will be a tricky Afcon qualifying campaign. Bafana’s next assignment against Sierra Leone in Freetown next month is sure to provide far more thrills and spills on and off the field than at Saturday’s packed, world-class Mbombela Stadium.

“We played good football and it was a lot of entertainment for the people,” the coach said. “We were dominant in terms of tactics, and I’m happy that our players could express themselves so well, played football to their strengths and showed talent.

“In all, we had a good plan and most of the things we spoke about that we must be careful of, such as counter-attacks, we did well on.”

Also pleasing for Bafana was the continued emergence of 22-year-old Belgian-based Anele Ngcongca as a rising star at right-back. The tall full-back again defended calmly and showed skill, pace and crossing ability on numerous overlapping runs.

Steven Pienaar was the dynamo of the South African performance at playmaker, setting up Mphela’s opening goal in the 12th minute with a strong challenge and intelligent pass from midfield. Mphela took the ball through and finished deftly with the outside of his right boot.

Parker’s goal in first-half injury time was equally spectacular, both in the striker’s neat execution of a powerful half-volley and in its build-up. An excellent crossfield pass from Macbeth Sibaya released Ngcongca on the right, whose cross was slammed in by the FC Twente striker.

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