MarkFish

Bafana aim for knock-out blow

2013-01-31 13:54
Sport24 columnist Mark Fish (File)
Bafana Bafana have completed their first goal of AFCON 2013 by reaching the quarter-finals. Whether it means losing one’s voice and gaining a few grey hairs, so be it! It’s all in a day’s work for a fan of the national football side.

It was very important that South Africa ended top of their group as you then generally avoid one of the more fancied teams, which turned out to be Ghana on this occasion.

The last time we reached the quarter-finals was in 2000 and history suggests that every time Bafana have reached the knock-out stages, they have at least booked a semi-final spot. These are exciting times for the current side.

I remember our 1996 quarter-final clash with Algeria vividly.

Beforehand, Clive Barker emphasised the importance of the game to all the players and specifically instructed me to stay back and defend. But my instinct throughout that unforgettable tournament was to venture forward, create confusion among the opposition defence and try to create or even score goals!

In my defence, why I often - but not always - disobeyed Clive was due to the fact that I started out as a striker in my youth and loved scoring goals. I’m sure he has long forgiven me for venturing forward against Algeria, as I scored the opening goal of the game, which we went on to win 2-1.

Fast forward to the present and Siyabonga Sangweni is doing much of the same and looks very comfortable scoring goals, I might add. He has scored two crucial goals thus far and long may it continue.

While Bafana Bafana have finally put the issue of scoring goals to bed, I feel they need to improve defensively. Defending comes first and I believe the back four needs to improve their communication and be more aware of what’s happening around them.

As a defensive unit, Bafana need to be a lot more solid, something which was largely not in evidence against Morocco. The good news, however, is that they are mistakes that can be rectified in time for our clash with Mali.

On Saturday evening against the West Africans, the business end of the tournament really kicks into gear for Bafana. In knock-out football, mistakes are magnified and cost matches. Only the fittest will survive physically and mentally.

I believe Mali are opponents Bafana must really respect as they are a top team. They possess physically imposing players yet aim on playing attractive football. They don’t play route-one football which one would typically expect from a side with such physical prowess.

Just about everything the Maliansdo between the four white lines goes through their captain and former Barcelona midfielder, Seydou Keita.

He is their inspiration and my word, at 33, is still going strong!

While Mali have plenty of talented players, I believe that if Bafana can limit the amount of possession Keita gets, then half the battle will be won. He truly is the heartbeat of the side.

Furthermore, if Bafana use their pace and get behind the Malian defence then they will cause problems. It’s key that Bafana play to their strengths and not those of Mali’s.

We are all behind the team and urge Bafana to go all the way, so that we can stop talking about 1996, as it reminds me of just how old I’m getting!
 
Mark Fish, capped 62 times for South Africa, was a key member of the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations-winning side.

Disclaimer:
Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

Read more on:    bafana bafana  |  afcon  |  mark fish  |  soccer
NEXT ON SPORT24X

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
16 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Live scoring

 

Red Bull Lionheart trail run - not for the fainthearted!

Entries are open, so what are you waiting for?

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Adventure holidays for your bucket list
Top 10 water sports to try before you die
6 impressive camping tips
LOL! The 8 stages of marathon running
 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
Featured

Got something you'd like to get off your chest? Got a burning desire to air an opinion? If so, be sure to sign-up on Sport24's FORUM!

Latest blogs
Vote

Western Province and the Golden Lions will do battle at Newlands on Saturday, October 25 for the 2014 Absa Currie Cup title. Who will lift the trophy after 80 minutes?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

Newsletters Sign up for the Morning Glory, Super 15 and Soccer newsletters

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

Mobile Sport24 on your mobile phone - WAP, alerts, downloads, services

Forum Have your Say on Sport24's brand new Forum!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

Blogs Yes your opinion counts. Get it out there

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.