Mark Gleeson

Bafana just not good enough?

2010-09-06 07:07
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
Mark Gleeson

Bafana Bafana looked slick in movement and passing on Saturday night but as usual failed to show the requisite efficiency in front of goal against Niger at the start of the 2012 African Nations Cup qualifying campaign.

Given how poor their opponents were, it must be considered a disappointing return by the South African team that they managed only two goals against a side ranked among the minnows of African football.

The number of chances missed by Bafana in the closing was staggering, indicative still of the approach that bedevils the game in this country.

South Africans still seem to place more value on skills than scoring and as a result look so effective and efficient in the middle of the park but get their legs tangled up in knots when faced with scoring opportunities.

Children who grow up playing football in this country are still being taught that to be able to dribble, feign or knock the ball through an opponent’s legs is as meaningful as scoring. The roar at games for bits of trickery is as voluminous as when the ball hits the back of the net.

So kids place an emphasis on superfluous aspects of the game and the consequences resound all the way up to premier league and national team level, where players do not have that killer instinct to bury the ball in the back of the net.

Only two goals against Niger could come back to haunt Bafana in this qualifying campaign.

Given a tough battle is on the cards with Egypt for top place and qualification to the next Nations Cup finals, South Africa have got win the two games each against Niger and Sierra Leone in their group and do so handsomely.

Niger at home is the easiest game they will have in this qualifying competition but they effectively flopped now at Mbombela Stadium. Next is an uncomfortable trip to Sierra Leone.

Ultimately I fancy, it is going to come down to South Africa beating Egypt at home and then drawing in Cairo.

On Saturday it was notable that MacBeth Sibaya, the oldest in the team, was a colossus in midfield and won almost every tackle.

Bernard Parker’s goal was a gem and it was good that Kermit Erasmus got a debut although he is still far away from being an international class player.

Katlego Mphela increased his goal tally for the country but squandered a myriad of chances again.

His first touch was heavy and he could easily have had a hat trick, as was the case in many of his recent performances. It is his pace that is his greatest asset but he would be a world star were he capable of split-second decision-making in the box and have a hungrier attitude towards converting the chances that come his way.

I suppose it is a good a sign that we can be irritated over a Bafana Bafana win. It was not that long ago we couldn’t buy victory for love or money.

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

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