Bafana Bafana

SAFA, Mashaba in Disneyland despite Bafana’s exit

2016-06-06 13:35
Shakes Mashaba (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - An improved Bafana Bafana beat 165th-ranked Gambia 4-0 in what can be likened to taking candy from a kid on Saturday - but, in the wider context, South Africa's national team emerged as losers after the weekend's African Nations Cup  qualifying games summarily ended  the faint chance of qualifying for next year's tournament in Gabon.

With Cameroon assured of winning Bafana's qualifying group after beating Mauritania on Friday, South Africa's fragile remaining qualifying hope rested on finishing as one of the two best-placed second teams in the 11 qualifying groups.

But this is now an impossibility even should Bafana win their last qualifying game against Mauritania by a convincing margin, with the situation having evolved that at least three second-placed teams - but probably as many as six - will be better-placed than South Africa even if Bafana move into second place in their own group.

 More precisely, two teams from the Group A qualifiers (Liberia and Togo), Group B (DRC and the Central African Republic) and Group D (Uganda and Burkina Faso) have all now gained 10 points from their qualifiers against the maximum number of nine which are available for Bafana to compile.

Yet, despite this sombre setback, SAFA and Mashaba have come out in a release from the national association that suggests it was penned in Disneyland, claiming that the win over the Gambian team, who are not only rated 165th in the world, but are also one of the worst-placed on the continent at 50th in the African rankings, was one of the best-ever performances by the national team.

And delving further into make-believe-land, the win over the country whose entire population amounts to little more than two-million, is the claim that Saturday's Bafana line-up is possibly the best yet produced in the country.

In reality, this kind of exaggerated euphoria, not uncommon in SAFA's ranks at the drop of a hat, is unrealistic talk and tends to be more damaging than anything else in cementing and building on what was undoubtedly a creditable performance from the likes of dual goal-scorers Keagan Dolly and Thamsanqa Gabuza, in particular.

But going overboard over an impressive performance against the likes of Gambia is a reminder that one swallow does not  guarantee a summer of soccer success  in the forthcoming vital 2018 World Cup qualifying games - or, as 17th century literary doyen, Baltasar Gracián, reminded all and sundry as far back as 1647: "to exaggerate is to weaken your argument."


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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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