S'Busiso Mseleku

Goal woes raise ugly head

2014-10-16 13:01
S’Busiso Mseleku (File)

That nemesis (or is it Achilles heel) of South African soccer - a failure to score goals - finally caught up with Bafana Bafana as they played to a goalless draw against Congo-Brazzaville in their Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier on Wednesday evening.

Bafana Bafana player ratings vs Congo

The boys went into this match with their tails high following a 2-0 victory over the same opponents in their own backyard, Pointe-Noir, on the weekend.

A second win on the trot would have guaranteed the South African national team qualification to the finals that will be hosted in Morocco early next year. They would have guaranteed at least a second place in Group A and that would have been enough as the two top countries in each Group are assured a place in the 16-nation tournament.

However, they now have to wait for their two last matches of the Group - against Sudan at home on November 14 and away to Nigeria on November 19 - to learn their fate.

All is not lost though as many still believe Bafana will complete the double over Sudan following their 3-0 victory in Khartoum last month.

But Shakes Mashaba's charges need to be very cautious and not take their opponents for granted as there are no guarantees in football.

The draw against Sudan is a minor bump as they remain on top of the Group with eight points followed by Congo on seven, Nigeria on four and Sudan - as expected - bottom, with three.

Bafana's draw have surely have given Nigeria hope that they still have a chance to qualify for the finals. It has also taken our national team back to a situation where they have once more failed to take their fate into their own hands.

This is an aspect of Bafana's make-up that Mashaba needs to work on, that they should learn to take their fate into their hands and not depend on other results.

Bafana Bafana also need to learn to punish their opponents by making them pay for any slip-ups and convert the chances they create.

But as mentioned at the beginning of this column, South Africa's weakness of not scoring enough goals, still follows Bafana Bafana and might prove to be Mashaba's undoing.

For those who like drama and the unpredictability that makes football interesting, this result is just what the doctor ordered. The result, coupled with Nigeria's victory over Sudan, has left Bafana, Congo and Nigeria all with a chance of qualifying for the AFCON finals.

While Bafana Bafana were playing out to their goalless draw, their "sisters", Banyana Banyana, were huffing and puffing their way to a dour 1-all draw against Ghana in the African Women's Championship (AWC) match in Namibia.

The ladies who were on a high going into this tournament, have come unstuck following a stuttering start that saw them lose 1-0 to Cameroon.

Wednesday night's draw has left them with a mere single point from two matches and should Ghana win their final match against Cameroon and they beat Algeria, their fate will be determined by goal difference.

CAF uses head-to-head first and then goal difference. So as Banyana and Ghana played to a 1-all draw, it means they are equal on head-to-head and their final position will be determined by goal difference meaning they will have to beat Algeria well and hope that Ghana lose or win by a lower margin.

Such is the sticky situation they find themselves in.

Focus now shifts back to the on, off and on again domestic league where top of the log Kaizer Chiefs visit second-placed Ajax Cape Town on Sunday.

But before that, there are exciting matches where third-placed Bidvest Wits travel to Mamelodi Sundowns who are fourth on Saturday evening and Orlando Pirates (fifth) entertain Free State Stars.

Who said there is never a boring moment in local football... ?

S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.

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.


All is not rotten

2016-10-20 07:39

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