Mark Gleeson

No more excuses for Bafana

2012-02-27 11:17
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
A friendly international with just 24 hours preparation seems hardly worth it.

Bafana Bafana arrive in Durban on Monday morning, hold two training session and go out to play against Senegal at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Wednesday.

But it is an important fixture for the national footballing psyche and in the wake of the African Nations Cup qualifying disaster.

The team quickly needs to get its own confidence back plus win over the public too. In less than a year, South Africa plays host to the Nations Cup and if this is a tournament that is to provide both the crowd support plus the potential for home success, then the preparatory road starts in midweek.

It needs to be a convincing performance on Wednesday; not another of those matches mired in “ifs” and “maybes”.

Playing on home soil in the recent past, South Africa have not given a rousing showing of their potential. But to be a side with any chance of success at the 2013 Nations Cup, it is time now to dominate visitors and impress how hard Bafana can be to beat in their back yard

Bafana Bafana are a brand in crisis at the moment, world football is still giggling into its sleeve about the way the country contrived to miss out on the Nations Cup.

That calamity will never be forgotten. It is too bizarre to be swept under the carpet of history. But doing well at the 2013 finals can restore a good deal of the damaged reputation.

Hopefully in Durban, even with limited preparation, there will be a steely edge to Bafana, a deep desire and, most importantly, a killer mentality. We need to see an approach that is attacking, full of pace and precise. Too often the team starts cautiously, suggesting an unhealthy respect for the opponent and then get bogged down try to impose themselves.

Wednesday’s game was supposed to be a bit of a glamour fixture given Senegal were the best team in last year’s qualifiers for the Nations Cup finals - in contrast with the South Africa calamity - and the South African Football Association booked them last year already in anticipation they could be potential 2012 African champions and draw a handsome crowd to the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

But the Lions of Teranga proved to be mere pussycats in the recent tournament in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, going home after three successive defeats against opposition ranked far lower than them in the FIFA standings.

Senegal now travel to South Africa attempting to pick up the pieces of their own team. They have fired their coach and put two caretakers in charge. They, in turn, have decimated the squad that went to 2012 Nations Cup and are introducing s host of youngsters. It is no longer a particularly powerful opponent.

South Africa must begin the rehabilitation process properly on Wednesday, put away the excuses and start to convince that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

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

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.

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