- SAFA has effectively bought a second home game for Bafana Bafana against lowly Sao Tome and Principe
- The soccer governing body will bear the expenses for both AFCON qualifying matches.
- Bafana are expected to bag six valuable points from the two encounters.
The South African Football Association (SAFA), it can be categorised, has effectively bought a second home game for Bafana Bafana against lowly Sao Tome and Principe when qualifiers for the 2022 African Cup of Nations resume, with both games against the 182nd world-ranked nation on Friday and Monday due to be staged in South Africa.
The curious, unusual arrangement, in which SAFA will bear the expenses for both matches in which six points are presumably seen as a valid pay-out, has been credited to the grim coronavirus pandemic, with spectators still a no-go for the encounters.
However, cynics, no doubt, will note also with a degree of Sherlock Holmes detection that Sao Tome and Principe have a reputation of being a lot tougher nut to crack at home than when playing away - demonstrated by the fact that in previous 2022 qualifying games the present South African visitors only lost 1-0 to the tough Ghana combination at home, but were comprehensively beaten 4-0 by the less formidable Sudan on foreign soil.
Be that as it may, Bafana have already lost their away leg to Ghana and might find it difficult shading the West Africans for top place in their qualifying section.
But the two top teams for each of the qualifying groups will be marching off to Cameroon for the 24-team finals and six points and a handy number of goals from the Sao Tome and Principe games at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Friday (21:00) and the Nelson Mandela Stadium on Monday (15:00) will do Bafana nicely.
The current standings in Bafana's group after two rounds have Ghana in top position with six points from their two matches, followed by South Africa and Sudan with three points and Sao Tome and Principe yet to open their tally and needing something of a miracle to make it to the AFCON Finals - otherwise, presumably, they would not have agreed to play both games against Bafana away.
As for Bafana, even if they manage to compile six points from Sao Tome and Principe, they will probably still need to glean a point or two against Ghana (home) and Sudan (away) when the CAF qualifiers are completed in March.
And, who knows, the issue might ironically be decided on goals and this is where two home games against Sao Tome and Principe might be just what the doctor ordered.
Meanwhile, while Bafana have been somewhat depleted for the Sao Tome and Principe games through injuries and the coronavirus, this has been more than off-set by the arrival of key overseas-based players Dean Furman (England), Percy Tau (Belgium) and Keagan Dolly (France).