Waking up in the wee hours of Friday morning was not
an easy task.
Also, the South African men's senior national soccer
team - Bafana Bafana - have not been covering themselves in glory of late.
So, to wake up and watch them in a 04:00 kick-off, SA time, was not such a
But boy, did they surprise!
They actually played their
more polished and higher ranked Central American hosts, Costa Rica, off the
One would have sworn that this was not the Bafana we
And therein lies the rub!
These days, one just doesn't know which Bafana Bafana is going to turn up for a match.
One game, they are as hot as a furnace, the next, they
are as cold as Antarctica.
Thing is, they seem to reserve their best showings for
friendly matches, only to fall flat on their stomachs in competitive matches
that count the most.
This is the reason why they have not done very well in
competitions such as the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) and even the Soccer World Cup.
Following years of failing to qualify for the AFCON,
Shakes Mashaba's team breezed through the qualification rounds of this
We were all singing Hallelujah as the team marched to
the finals in Equatorial Guinea.
But what happened at the competition proper, was the
usual. Bafana bombed out of the first round without winning a single game.
This is the inconsistency I'm talking about.
It is high time that Mashaba drummed it into the players
that while friendly matches are important in preparing the team for competitive
matches, qualifiers and the real competitions are even more important.
This is where most points are garnered for better FIFA
Right now, Bafana are in a precarious position as far
as qualifying for the Gabon 2017 AFCON finals is concerned, having drawn
goalless with Gambia and embarrassingly lost 3-0 to minnows Mauritania.
They will soon be up against Angola in a four-match
series that includes two legs of the African Nations Championships (CHAN)
qualifiers, followed by two legs of World Cup qualifiers against the same
This is where Bafana Bafana will have to show that
they are worth their salt and not just in friendly matches.
The inconsistency displayed by the team on the field
is also reflective of Mashaba's unclear selection policy.
After being consistent in selecting players who were
on top form at their clubs during the AFCON qualifiers, even daring to use
untested youngsters such as Rivaldo Coetzee based on their form, Mashaba
changed tact and returned to using old horses.
And this has backfired badly as the team is now so
inconsistent it's no fun.
Perfect example is Keagan Dolly whom Mashaba dropped
like a hot potato following a nightmarish debut against Sudan in Khartoum.
However, the player is having a ball at Mamelodi Sundowns being in sizzling
form but the coach seems to be turning a blind eye on him.
Mashaba must catch a wake-up call and bring the team
back to the required consistency before it is too late. Or else, we will see
our nation once more miss out on qualifying for the 2017 AFCON and the 2018
Perish the thought!
S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading
sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of
the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is
currently City Press Sports Editor.
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