Bafana Bafana

Bafana: A week to forget, a game to remember

2015-06-21 11:30
Kwanda Mngonyama (right) and Louis Pithia of Mauritius battle for possession during the 2016 African Nations Championship match at Dobsonville Stadium yesterday. Bafana won 3-0 PHOTO: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images

Crisis, what crisis, one would ask after Bafana Bafana’s emphatic victory over Mauritius.

Bafana put their disastrous week behind them when they easily brushed aside an awful Mauritius 3-0 in the first leg of the CAF African Nations Championship yesterday.

It was a week to forget for coach Shakes Mashaba, but a game to remember, as his team produced one of their best performances in recent times with a hammering of the visitors.

After the chaotic days leading up to the game, when as many as 11 players were withdrawn from the team by their clubs, Bafana showed character and determination to take a 3-0 lead into the second leg in a fortnight’s time.

Although it was a win against a lowly ranked Indian Ocean island side – most of whose players are semiprofessionals – it was the manner in which it was achieved that was consoling, particularly after the team had just had one training session prior to the game as a result of the shenanigans that preceded it.

Mashaba threw Wandisile Letlabika straight into the line-up without having trained with the team after the Bloemfontein Celtic defender joined the squad on Friday night.

But Bafana did not show any signs of distraction, as they used the game as a practice match – the visitors offered virtually no resistance.

After a slow start, Bafana gained composure as the shadows dropped and they took the game to the visitors, who had nothing to offer except for one corner kick in the first half.

Although it took them a while before they got their act together, once they got going Bafana were unstoppable.

The positives for Bafana was the combination between Thamsanqa Gabuza and Siphelele Ntshangase, which was a marvel to watch.

The two strikers scored the three first-half goals, with Gabuza opening the scoring and the Black Leopards striker earning himself a well-taken brace.

It is still a mystery how Bafana failed to add to their first-half score, as Ntshangase was twice denied his hat-trick, first by the crossbar and another effort saved on the line.

It should and could have been more, especially after David L’enclume got a red card after receiving his second yellow, but Bafana took their feet off the scoring pedal in the second half. But a win is a win, irrespective of how it is achieved.

Mashaba would have been pleased with the response from his hastily arranged players, as they gave their all.

The islanders were coming from a 7-1 drubbing by Ghana’s Black Stars last weekend, and the question was how many goals Bafana were going to score.

Birthday boy Itumeleng Khune, who captained the team, had a quiet afternoon in goals as he celebrated his 28th birthday.

The game will be remembered for what happened prior to the match, when clubs recalled their players and this led to a bit of chaos in the camp. It is something authorities need to work on going forward.

It remains to be seen which team Mashaba will field in the second leg in two weeks’ time in Mauritius.

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Bafana Bafana have been drawn with Cameroon, Gambia and Mauritania in the qualification stages for the 2017 AFCON tournament. Where will Shakes Mashaba's men finish in their pool?

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