for Bafana Bafana to next year’s African Nations Cup finals now suddenly looks
a position of strength in their group, the national team now finds itself one
point behind in the standings and having to win, at all costs, its final game.
in Niger on Sunday was unexpected but all accounts a well-fought fight. I, like
most South Africans who pay their annual TV licence fee, never got to see the
have to win against Sierra Leone on October 8 in the last group game and hope
that, at the same time, Egypt can do us a favour by beating, or holding to a
this would be something of a routine task but Egypt are now playing their
under-23 side, as they are out of contention, and Niger have uncovered a
hitherto unrevealed source of talent.
Mosimane has already criticised Egypt for "dumping down" on their national side
but I bet any federation would do the same if the still had some competitive
matches to play but no chance of qualifying. In fact they would be criticised
if they did not us the opportunity to blood a new youngsters.
under-23 side lost away to Sierra Leone on a last minute penalty on Saturday so
they cannot be all that bad. I fancy at home they will beat Niger and then we
have to beat the Leone Stars to finish top.
now crucial last qualifier game is tentatively set for Nelspruit, which is a
mistake. Not to get on the wrong side of the good people of the Lowveld, and
site of one of the best pitches in the country, but the advantage of altitude
is lost if the game is played there.
to give Bafana Bafana a huge helping hand, the South African Football
Association must consider a venue at altitude, in Johannesburg or Pretoria.
Admittedly fans support is not as good in Gauteng as it would be in Nelspruit
but there is much more at stake here than a nice pay day from the gate. The
association will make up any lost revenue from the gate from proceeds from
being Nations Cup finalists.
the start of the preliminaries, it would have been deemed absurd to suggest
Egypt would lose all three away games and draw their first two at home.
planning for this group they were the key factor and once Bafana Bafana had
taken four points out of six points off them it seemed logical Mosimane’s men
would top the standings.
now Niger have upset the applecart and emerged as an unlikely force. It has
been a Nations Cup qualifying campaign full of surprise packages, starting with
our neighbours Botswana and including the Mena Stars of Niger.
Sierra Leone at home would seem, on paper, to be well within Bafana Bafana’s
capabilities. But after all these shock results, it is difficult to feel the
Mark Gleeson is a respected television commentator and Editorial Director of Mzanzi Football.
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