Mark Gleeson

SA need warriors, not dancers

2010-08-10 09:06
Mark Gleeson (File)
Mark Gleeson

Ghana is a tough start for any new coach, but Pitso Mosimane claims he wanted to be tested in his first game in charge for Bafana Bafana.

An international outing so soon after the Soccer World Cup might seem a little lost but the mid-August date is part of the international calendar and with so little time these days for national coaches to get their players together, it is a chance not to be missed.

More importantly, it means Mosimane has a warm-up game before a much more import, and probably easier, game against Niger. Its importance is that it is the opening salvo in the bid to qualify for the next African Nations Cup finals and with home advantage, and much tougher games to come, Bafana Bafana must win on the first weekend in September.

Mosimane has a four-year deal, but what has not been publicised is a clause in his contract that says he can be booted if the country does not qualify for the 2012 Nations Cup.

That is a tough task, because South Africa have been drawn in the same group with defending champions Egypt, who are going for an unprecedented fourth successive title.

Only the group winner is guaranteed and a place at the finals in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon at the start of 2012, but three of the best runners-up also progress.

If South Africa are denied top place in the group by the Pharaohs, then Bafana they will need to beat both Niger and Sierra Leone (the other two teams in the group) home and away to ensure they have enough points to advance.

Sierra Leone were in Bafana Bafana’s last qualifying group and, on paper, as easy an opponent now as they were supposed to be just over two years ago.

But in the early days of Joel Santana’s reign, the national side duffed it with horror misses from the likes of Surprise Moriri and Kagisho Dikgacoi ensuring the team lost in Sierra Leone and then a week later were then held to an embarrassing goalless draw at the Super Stadium in Atteridgeville. It cannot happen again.

It has been a long-standing problem with Bafana Bafana that there is the absence of a real killer streak, especially against these minnow countries.

The national side has yet to learn to kill off a side when they have them on the back foot. Instead of (figuratively) kicking them when they are down, Bafana Bafana are more inclined to showboat and entertain the crowd.

But as international football, and particularly the preliminary stages for major tournaments, become more and more competitive, the national team must become ruthless. Mosimane must teach his charges to stick in the knife and stick it in hard. A goal here and there could prove decisive, as we have ready learnt at our considerable cost.

So, while Wednesday’s game against Ghana is really a celebration of the wonderful World Cup legacy, and a friendly match, let’s hope we see a mean streak from our team as they take on the Black Stars.

We need warriors in this new era, not dancers.

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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