Expert opinion

Low-key Bafana wins no big deal

Sy Lerman (File)
Sy Lerman (File)

If Bafana Bafana played Botswana 10 times with 10 different combinations the chances are they might win all 10 times.

So what does that mean in a wider perspective considering the fact that Bafana have in recent weeks boosted their ego - and that of SAFA - by beating Botswana on three occasions, as well as notching up another rather inconsequential victory over Namibia?

Precious little, one imagines, when you consider that dedicated, but strictly limited Botswana  are ranked an unpalatable 138th position by FIFA and possess only a fraction of soccer manpower, finance and facilities that are available to their South African counterparts.

Yet if SAFA statements and releases and those made on behalf of  Stuart Baxter, if not by the Bafana coach himself, are to be believed the trio of wins over Botswana and that against Namibia, who are ranked 156th by FIFA , have dramatically elevated South African soccer in the right direction.

More significantly, since Bafana's memorable breakthrough away victory in the AFCON qualifier in which Baxter launched his second stint as South Africa's national coach, that particular line-up has gone into what might be termed cold storage while changes have been implemented ad nauseam in a succession of low key fixtures - with defeats against 116th-ranked Tanzania and a second-string Zambia to boot in the process.

How much more significant if the team that beat Nigeria so impressively had at least been assembled on one more occasion before the looming World Cup qualifying games against the Cape Verde Islands!

The inverted situation is to a large extent beyond the control of Baxter, who must abide by the way CAF, COSAFA and SAFA compile a hazy programme of fixtures that have tended to push into the background the victory over Nigeria.

And, ironically, with more recent results doing more harm than good insofar as South Africa's FIFA ranking is concerned, the improvement anticipated from beating Nigeria away from home in an official tournament game has been neutralised, while Bafana remain languishing with a less than satisfactory 65th rating.

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