Mark Gleeson

Bafana deserved some luck

2011-03-28 07:23
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
Mark Gleeson

South African sport deserves a little luck and it came in a decent dollop on Saturday night, courtesy of Katlego Mphela.

Bafana Bafana were just seconds from a disappointing result against Egypt on Saturday night, facing probable eventual elimination from the African Nations Cup qualifying contest and some serious question marks over the future of coach Pitso Mosimane, before the Mamelodi Sundowns striker popped up to score a dramatic winner.

It was literally the last kick of the game that saw South Africa gain a dramatic win, turning a sullen crowd into a celebratory mass.

What relief, because it now means Bafana Bafana are very much masters of their own destiny in the qualification battle and it is a massive psychological boost for a talented, yet at times overwhelmed, group of players.

Mphela had a poor touch throughout the game and looked a candidate to come off in the second half. But Mosimane persisted when perhaps he might have tempted to bring on Davide Somma or, even better, Thulani Serero.

But that Mphela stayed on proved a good call from the coach, who has long expressed his faith in the ability of the Sundowns striker and who was instrumental in getting Mphela’s career back on track after his recent histrionics about a move overseas.

Mphela repaid the coach by essentially saving his job with that great 93rd minute goal!

Egypt were desperately unlucky. Itumeleng Khune was the busier of the two goalkeepers and there were two set-piece situations where the Pharaohs could have scored.

They were cagey in the beginning, beaten in the midfield battle but easily soaking up attempts at attack by the home side. In the second half Egypt went for it, looking to win the game. Their players were physically tough, mentally strong and always dangerous. You can see why they have ruled African football for some time now.

Bafana Bafana were too respectful in the beginning. Mosimane called it “playing quietly”. Steven Pienaar was obviously still battling with his injury problems, as was the case with Simphiwe Tshabalala. But Pienaar was prepared to battle while Tshabalala ducked out of too many challenges. He has never been one for the heat of the kitchen.

Morgan Gould was a colossus in defence but the coach also singled out Bongani Khumalo, even though the latter made two Aaron Mokoena-type mistakes which Egypt should, but failed to, punish.

Thanduyise Khuboni proved again how he will develop into a top player but his distribution out of midfield is too slow.

This will go down as one of the great Bafana matches but only because of the result and a single kick at the end of the game. It was certainly far from a decent performance.

But luck is one of the key elements of football, as coaches like to tell us, and South Africa had a visit from the lady on Saturday. Hopefully she comes around more often.

Mark Gleeson is a respected television commentator and Editorial Director of Mzanzi Football.

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.

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